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The Luckiest Inning
2005-07-03 17:31
by Ken Arneson

The A's got back to within one game of .500 by beating the White Sox 7-2 Sunday afternoon, victimizing Mark Buehrle with the luckiest inning the A's will get all year. Trailing 2-0, they did practically nothing right, but still scored four runs.

  • Eric Chavez led off the sixth with an infield single.
  • Bobby Kielty followed with a hard hit grounder that Pablo Ozuna had a chance to field for a double play, but the ball hit the second base umpire, and the A's had two runners on instead of two runners out.
  • Eric Byrnes was overanxious and tried to clobber a changeup, got way out in front and hit a weak grounder back to Buehrle. Buehrle had a shot at another double play, but he couldn't get a good grip, and threw the ball into center field. Chavez scored, Kielty went to third, and Byrnes ended up at second.
  • Nick Swisher hit a ground ball to the one infielder who could hold the runners and prevent a run, grounding out to third.
  • Keith Ginter hit a grounder back at Buehrle. It bounced off him between the mound and shortstop for another infield single. Kielty scored, Byrnes to third.
  • Mark Ellis tried to get clever and bunt in Byrnes from third, but he bunted the ball in the air to Konerko for out 2.
  • Jason Kendall grounded a single through a big hole between the first and second baseman, driving in Byrnes.
  • Mark Kotsay doubled just past Paul Konerko down the first base line, scoring Ginter.
  • Bobby Crosby struck out to end the inning.

Innings like this are lucky, but I'm not going to apologize for it. First of all, the White Sox make me sick (I had tickets for the game today, but didn't go), so I don't feel sorry for them at all.

Second, this was luck as the residue of design. The A's don't strike out much; they put the ball in play; lucky hits and double plays are natural outcomes for that kind of team. I've seen the A's hit into a lot of double plays, including three DP's this game. The A's were due for some lucky hits. So this inning felt good, like payback.

2005-07-04 07:17:06
1.   Faust
Ken, I agree with a lot of that, but I'll dissent a little bit. I think Kielty's ball was headed into center field, not into Ozuna's glove for a DP. Even if Ozuna gets it, it would take a terrific backhand flip from the prone position to initiate a DP. Of course, even a FO likely quashes the inning, and hitting the ump was lucky in the sense that it removed even the possibility of bad things happening.

Obviously the A's caught a huge break when Buehrle threw away the easy DP on the next play. Even there, though, the luck may have been a consequence of the A's own abilities, in that Buehrle had to know that a furious Byrnes would be pounding down the line, maybe hurrying his throw more than he would, say, on a Durazo one-hopper.

No luck at all on Kendall's single: he seemed clearly to aim the ball through the big hole on the right side. I'm no fan of Kendall's dinkball style in general, but to intentionally and successfully pick a hole and "hit 'em where they ain't" is unusual, and rather beautiful.

The A's had some bad luck, too. I'd been fuming in the early innings that their few line drives were finding gloves. In particular, Ellis's liner for a DP, which was one of the best-struck balls the A's hit all day. Two outs, none on, instead of no outs, two on - and even then the next two guys reached base, without scoring. Bad luck killed what could have been a real nice inning there.

I'm with you 100% on this part, though: I'll take all of it without apology. To take it further, after watching all those ghastly snakebit potential clinching games in the postseason the last several years, I'm not apologizing for any lucky break the A's get from now till the end of time.

2005-07-04 08:02:26
2.   Ken Arneson
That last sentence, Faust, is just so true.

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