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Game 9 Summary: That's Using Your Head
2007-04-11 13:44
by Philip Michaels

All that's been said about Tuesday's game has already been said, in words and pictures. But when has that ever stopped me?

Game 9: A's 2, White Sox 1

Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- H. Street (1-0) LP -- B. Jenks (1-1)

Went Deep: The Went Deep space is now looking for advertisers to fill this space, since it will apparently go unoccupied by A's homers.

Your Gordon Biersch Marzen Star of the Game: Todd Walker. Some may argue that Mark Ellis deserves our mythical honor, since he did, after all, provide the killing blow. But with the bases loaded with Athletics and Bobby Jenks more or less forced to put a pitch in the vicinity of the strike zone, the odds were tilted more toward Ellis coming through than they might be otherwise. Besides, if Ellis' ball lands in Scott Podsednik's glove instead of on his head, we're just going to extra frames; if Todd Walker fails to deliver, the game is over and the A's are 3-6. Plus, Todd Walker was asked to deliver a hit after sitting on the bench for 8 2/3 innings -- that deserves some sort of recognition, I'd think.

The Turning Point: I'd say the Walker at-bat, chronicled ably by Ryan below. But let's not let this opportunity to opine at length pass without mentioning the post-Walker RBI-hit decision by Ozzie Guillen to throw four wide ones past Travis Buck in order to face Mark Ellis. As reader doppelganger noted in the comments to last night's waste of subjects and predicates:

I can see the lefty-righty thing, but
1. Buck isn't a very good hitter yet (I know Ellis is worse)
2. A walk loses the game, so if Jenks fell behind he'd have to give Ellis a good pitch to hit. Watching Gamecast, I knew that would happen as soon as Jenks went to 2-1.

Originally, I surmised that Ozzie ordered the walk because he didn't want the right-handed Jenks pitching against the left-handed Buck. But then I looked at Jenks' career righty-lefty splits. Righties hit him for a much better average (.279 vs. .182) and for much more power than lefties do. So I'm stumped particularly in light of the fact that Guillen enjoys a not-undeserved reputation for craftily handling his bullpen resources.

I can only assume that the Sox skipper remember that Buck had tripled earlier and that Ellis had looked miserable at the plate (particularly with runners in scoring position) and acted accordingly. Either that, or his minded was clouded by thoughts of Jay Mariotti.

Head Games: John Shea's description of the game-winning hit in the dead-trees edition of the Chronicle:

Following an intentional walk to Travis Buck that loaded the bases, Mark Ellis singled to deep left, and the A's went from stranding runners all night to almost strangling Ellis in a celebratory scrum.

From the Contra Costa Times:

Ellis had failed to get Buck home from third base with nobody out in the fifth, and the A's second baseman was thrilled to get another chance. He made the most of it with a single off the wall in left-center field.

From the AP:

Mark Ellis singled off the wall in left with the bases loaded in the ninth after pinch-hitter Todd Walker tied the game on an RBI single, lifting the Oakland Athletics past the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Tuesday night.

No, no, and no. With an understanding nod toward the constraints of filing game stories on tight deadline, it was quite clear that the ball never hit the wall, but instead landed square on Scott Podsednik's head.

We don't mean to pick on Podsednik -- kinda, sorta, OK, we do -- since most fielders wouldn't have been fast enough to be a position to make a play on the ball, let alone give it the Maradona-treatment as they sprawled helpless into the left-field fence, but we so rarely get a chance to see highly-compensated professional fielders take a header, we should not allow mere deadline pressures to rob us of this moment.

Jose Canseco has been dining off his skull-aided home run for years. (Well, that and the steroids.) That's the first thing people think of when they think of Babe Herman, even though he was insistent that he never let a fly ball hit him in the head. ("Once or twice on the shoulder maybe...") Let's not deny Scott Podsednik his own place in baseball immortality.

(I see that the online version of John Shea's story now recognizes Podsednik's skull's contribution to this historic occasion. Kudos.)

Speaking of Scott Podsednik and immortality, you still have the opportunity to think up a fitting nickname for the one-two tandem of him and Darin Erstad. (Think Bash Brothers or M&M Boys, only without so much offense.) Whoever offers the winning suggestion will be properly feted by yours truly.

Cheap Shot I Should Have Included Yesterday: From Shea's account of opening day:

[A's owner Lew] Wolff watched Monday's 4-1 loss to the White Sox from his seat behind the A's dugout, alongside his guest, Oakland mayor Ron Dellums.

Yes, but Wolff only invited Dellums to ask him about the quickest routes out of town.

Because Phil Is a Demanding Master: It's seems mean to dwell on this, what with the come-from-behind victory and all, but dwell we shall on the aftermath of Buck's triple to lead off the fifth inning. That potential rally-sparking moment was immediately followed by a feeble grounder to Jon Garland from Mark Ellis, a grounder to Garland of equal or lesser value from Jason Kendall, and a who-the-hell-cares-how-Shannon Stewart-made-the-third-out-it's-not-like-the-run-would-score-on-a-fly-ball from Shannon Stewart.

Failing to produce with runners in scoring position happens from time to time; it just seems to be happening a lot with the A's in 2007 (.173 batting average headed into the ninth). Yeah, the players aren't robots, and, yeah, sometimes, the pitchers get the best of a showdown (even the Jon Garlands of the world), but someone or someones in green and gold needs to know that they're going to be called to account if this nonsense continues, improbable walkoff win or no.

All in All: Hey, really dramatic half-inning at the end there -- and with a particularly pleasant result. I'm not sure that it should entirely obscure that offensive ineptitude that came before it, but we'll take the Ws we can get until we figure this "timely hitting" thing out.

2007-04-11 14:38:38
1.   Ruben F Pineda
Someone has been listining, Swisher is in the two hole with Kendall down at #8...
2007-04-11 15:31:47
2.   Ken Arneson
Game 10 Summary: That's Pounding In My Head
2007-04-11 15:44:02
3.   Philip Michaels
2 Game 10 Summary: I Think I'll Wait To Write That One Up Until My Rage Subsides A Little
2007-04-11 15:56:15
4.   For The Turnstiles
Game 10 Summary: (unprintable)
2007-04-11 18:50:57
5.   doppelganger
This is a really weird team (for me), because it has some players I really like and would want to do well even if they didn't play for Oakland (Swisher and Haren especially) combined with players who have killed Oakland so much over the past couple of years I just want to see them leave (Kendall and Crosby). What I'm getting (illogically) at is that this reminds of the game in September (05?) when Swisher hit a walk off home run against the Mariners to win 7-6 in what looked like a season turning point before they blew it down the stretch. I forsee an extremely frustrating 87-75 season.

Game 10? What Game 10? That had nothing to do with this rant if it even existed :P

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