I happened to score a free ticket to yesterday's game, and what a game it was! Over 40,000 people showed up on a Wednesday afternoon for Root Beer Float Day, where local celebrities serve dessert to raise funds for Juvenile Diabetes. A good cause, a huge crowd, perfect weather and an exciting comeback. It was a blast.
The first half of the game wasn't great, but it could have been worse. Dan Haren was not sharp at all. The Indians were hitting the ball hard off him all day, and Haren was lucky to escape having given up only four runs on 12 hits in 5 1/3 IP. From where I was sitting in the early innings, way down the first base line, I couldn't tell why Haren was struggling. Based on Haren's lack of ground ball outs, I'd guess that he was getting his pitches up.
Scott Elarton gave up consecutive doubles to lead off the game, but thereafter was exactly as sharp as Haren wasn't. The A's pounded ground ball after ground ball, and got nothing more off Elarton but a sixth-inning solo shot by Bobby Kielty.
Trailing 4-2 in the 7th, it was time for a change. Thanks to some friendly connections, I managed to "upgrade" my seat to get much closer to the field, where I could take some better game photos.
Arthur Rhodes replaced Elarton in the 8th, and it was a welcome sight, since the A's could do nothing with Elarton. Rhodes was booed, as I expected, when he was announced. Rhodes walked Bobby Crosby to lead off the inning, and I thought "same old Rhodes". He was terrible in an A's uniform. But Rhodes seemed recovered the fastball he was missing all last year, making him quite tough on lefties again. Chavez and Hatteberg hit weak grounders, the latter a double play, and Rhodes audibly expressed his satisfaction as he walked off the field.
Huston Street came on in the top of the ninth and kept the score at 4-2. His Cleveland counterpart, Bob Wickman, came on in the bottom of the ninth to do the same. Wickman succeeded in holding a two-run lead the previous night, but was not as sharp the following afternoon. The A's hit four singles off him, and tied it up. To extra innings we go!
Street got through the 10th unscathed, and David Riske came on for the Indians in the bottom half. Riske got two quick outs, but then Mark Ellis, who had pinch run for Dan Johnson in the ninth and stayed on to play first base (for only the second time in his career), singled to right. Jay Payton followed with a double to left, and there were runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Marco Scutaro, who had failed to bunt two runners over in the 9th, was up. He singled to left, Ellis scored, and the A's had won again.
The A's have the magic dust on them right now. When you're hot, these miraculous comebacks seem to happen with regularity. It's astounding, and amazingly fun.