Game 10 Summary: Let Us Never Speak of the Ninth Inning Again
by Philip Michaels
Wednesday's scheduled Athletics-White Sox face-off -- "game" does not seem an appropriate word choice as that suggests that some amount of pleasure is involved -- is a tricky one to write up, seeing as how it was not on TV and contested during work hours. Nevertheless, we will endeavor to do our best, which is more than can be said for the A's offense from the second inning onward.
Game 10: White Sox 6, A's 3
Your Pitchers of Record: WP: D. Aardsma (1-0) LP: H. Street (1-1) S: B. Jenks (2)
Went Deep: Dye (1)
Your Coca-Cola Star of the Game: Jermaine Dye, whose two-run eighth inning blast tied up the game to set up the chain of events in the ninth where the wheels fell of the Oakland wagon. Why, Jermaine, why? And after I came to your defense, too. You know what I say to that, Jermaine?
The Turning Point: We'll go with those two ninth-inning pitches that Huston Street through the thrice-damned A.J. Pierzysnki that could have been called strike three but weren't. Street says in the funny papers that the calls, while not necessarily bad ones, could have gone either way, and since I only have Ken Korach's accounts and descriptions of the contest, I'll have to take Street's word for it. But since the calls went the way they did, the A's went from having two outs and a runner on first to one-out/two-on situation, and Street lost his control from there on out.
"I'm Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. What Are You Doing Here at the Coliseum?": By far my favorite commercial -- and by "favorite," I mean the one I openly mock -- playing during A's radio broadcasts is the one for the A's Kids Club in which a harried father tells his son that he can only pick out on souvenir to commemorate his trip to the Coliseum; no worries, pops, the kid says -- he's a member of the A's Kids Club so he gets all the loot he needs. And after an announcer lists all the merits of membership, the father asks his son, "Can I join the A's Kids Club?"
The question is absurd on its face -- of course, you cannot, old man. Which one of you has custody of the other one? Which one of you drove to the park and sprang for tickets? Do those sound like the sort of claims someone age 14 and under could make?
Nevertheless, the kid in the radio ad comes up with a much more polite response: "Sorry, Dad. Kids only." If I wrote ad copy, the rejoinder would be, "No way, you creepy weirdo." Which is why I'm not in advertising.
Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: Watching Tuesday's game, I noticed Milton Bradley walking somewhat gingerly after he scored the tying run in the ninth and opted to ignore it. Bradley strained his hammy as it turns out and, with the Thursday off-day, the A's opted to give him two days of rest in advance of the Yankees series. So the well wishes and intricate spells holding the easily-injured Bradley together appear to be working, more or less.
A head's up from Susan Slusser: Bobby Crosby's off-day on Wednesday was pre-planned and Shannon Stewart will likely be out of the lineup Friday. We mention this so that no one thinks either player suffered some severe injury, which is a natural assumption when anyone in an Oakland uniform is out of the lineup.
The Lesson As Always -- Listen to Phil: I've been squawking about Jason Kendall's lofty position in the batting order for longer than I care to (see this summary for the most lucid rant), and it's nice to see that Bob Geren sees the same things I see. Even better, if this post from Slusser is anything to go by, it sounds like this move is not of the temporary nature. I don't know if Shannon Stewart is necessarily the answer -- I think he'll eventually come around, but I have nothing to base this on rather than gut feeling and a momentary bout of optimism -- but I like him getting four or five at-bats a game more than I like Kendall doing it.
It's just as well the game wasn't on TV. When the lineups were announced with Kendall in the eight slot, we might have been treated to a shot of Ray Fosse in the booth with a single tear running down his cheek, a la Iron Eyes Cody. With the game only on radio, Foss could take the time to compose himself off air.
All in All: Much will probably be made of Duchscherer giving up the game-tying homer to Dye and Street completing the come-from-ahead loss in the ninth. Indeed, in my bout of post-game glumness, I ruminated that perhaps Huston Street is not so reliable when asked to pitch on consecutive days -- certainly on a day game after a night game. But I have no evidence of that, and it seems kind of fruitless to start looking at this point. Sometimes guys just don't get the job done. The A's bullpen did its duty on Sunday against the Angels and on Tuesday against the Sox; that they couldn't repeat the feat Wednesday is just one of those things. No sense looking for any larger meaning in what is probably just a blip in a 162-game season.
What I do have evidence of is the A's inability to hit the ball consistently over the course of a nine-inning game. We've got 10 games in the books now, and Oakland's bats have really come through in only one of those. Wednesday repeated the pattern: set aside the three-run outburst in the first inning, and the A's only notched a hit and a walk for the remaining eight frames. Bash Duke and Street if you want, but those guys can at least point to delivering at some point over the first 10 games. How many A's batters can say the same thing?