Woefully, woefully behind on the game summaries. Part of the problem is, like many of the A's, I've suffered an injury -- a recurrence of a foot problem I've been battling since November. I should be able to avoid any time on the DL, but I hear Ken might call up the Game Summary writer from Midland in a few days.
Also, I've taken some time off to finish my first one-act play. I call it "The April 23rd Game Between Oakland and Baltimore," and I share it now with you. Enjoy.
Baltimore, a Major League Baseball team
Oakland, another Major League Baseball team
The curtain rises on a baseball field in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Baltimore enters from stage right. Oakland enters from stage left.
Baltimore: Greetings, good sir. I bid you welcome to my baseball stadium.
Oakland: Thank you, hospitable stranger. It is indeed a lovely ballfield.
Baltimore: You honor me, sir. As a token of my appreciation, please accept this five-run lead on behalf of my shaky starting pitcher.
Oakland: That's awfully kind of you. But really, I didn't bring anything for you...
Baltimore: No matter, sir. You are a guest here.
Oakland: But still, I feel quite the ill-mannered baboon. I know! Here's a run for you! And another! And two more still!
Baltimore: Sir, you embarrass me! I insist that you have this insurance run. Surely, the game is decided, so this extra run I give you is meaningless.
Oakland: Not so, my fine fellow. Not if I give you this fifth run and allow you back into the game with this six...
Baltimore: Halt, scoundrel! You try my patience. I will not accept your sixth run, even if it means running my way out of the inning and calling for an inexplicably ill-timed bunt.
Oakland: If you insist. I fear that I have offended you. I will be on my way. Good day to you.
Baltimore: And good day to you.
Oakland exits, stage left.
Baltimore: Aw, crap.
Game 19: A's 6, Orioles 5
Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- D. Haren (2-2) LP -- E. Bedard (3-2) S -- H. Street (5)
Went Deep: Swisher 2 (3), Roberts (1), Huff (2)
Your Eco Domani Chianti Star of the Game: Nick Swisher, for his two home runs, equally important to the outcome and from opposite sides of the plate.
The Turning Point: If you were watching the videotape footage of the final inning when Brian Roberts singled off Huston Street with runners on second and third and one out, you were treated to a curious sight -- Corey Patterson, the runner on second, running counter-clockwise on the bases. As the ball trickled past Street and into center, Patterson can clearly be seen darting back to second instead of bolting toward third. This hesitation clearly cost Baltimore the tying run -- Patterson scores easily if he doesn't hesitate -- and ultimately the game. And if there was a reason for it, other than good old fashioned brain-lock, I don't know what it could be. Even if Bobby Crosby manages to field the ball, he's running away from third and would probably try for the out at first -- Patterson would be safe at third easily. I hope Corey Patterson isn't taking this observation as criticism -- the play worked out swimmingly for me.
Besides, the batter that immediately followed, Melvin Mora, didn't do Baltimore any favors when he decided to bunt, apparently on his own initiative. On the bright side, he certainly had the element of surprise; on the down side, Patterson was among the surprised. He stuck close to third while Huston Street fielded the bunt and threw Mora out. (We should add that Street's throw was rushed, and it took a pretty sweet play from Todd Walker at first to secure the out.)
You don't often see a team shoot itself in the foot like that on successive plays, but I don't think the A's should feel obliged to grant the Orioles a do-over.
Le Affaire Halsey: There's a decided backlash brewing against Brad Halsey, the erstwhile fill-in starter turned disgruntled AAA rotation filler, for loosing his venom on the A's after the team either forced him to pitch on a bum arm until it came time to pay him a Major-League salary (Halsey's take) or passed him over on a promotion to the big club in favor of a more deserving candidate (Billy Beane's version). There's been a predictable amount of we-keep-you-alive-to-serve-the-ship-row-well-and-live talk directed at Halsey from some sections of the fanbase. One thing that's hard to overlook, for me anyhow: if the facts of the matter are as Halsey outlines, dude's kind of got a legitimate beef.
All in All: I TiVo'ed the game, fully expecting to enjoy it in all its time-shifted splendor. And I was certainly on my way to doing just that, with the A's up 5-1, when I happened to browse over to the wrong Web site and notice the 6-5 final score. "6 to 5?" I said out loud. "How on earth did the game get that close?" So I kept watching to see how things unfolded, which allowed me to watch the ninth inning with a certain detachment, since I knew things would turn out A-OK. It was easier on my nerves a little bit, though not as much as you might think.