By Jason Wojciechowski on April 18, 2009 at 9:36 PM
Day games after night games aren't just rough on the players. I struggled out of bed myself, but I'm here now, ready to running diary my second game of the season as the A's try to preemptively take the series from the Blue Jays.
Trevor Cahill will make his third start of the year, and he's got a nice ERA coming into the game (2.25), but nothing to show for it in the win column. Brian Tallet will oppose him for the Blue Jays, making his first start of the year, replacing the injured Jesse Litsch. Oakland's lineup is much the same as yesterday's: Sweeney leads off, although in right field today; Cabrera, Giambi, and Holliday are in their familiar places, hitting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and playing short, first, and left; Jack Cust bumps up to fifth in the order and DHs; Kurt Suzuki is behind the plate again (despite the day-after-night schedule -- the man is a horse); Ellis is at second, Crosby is at third, and Rajai Davis gets the start in center field. So Davis basically replaces Nomar in the batting order as the defense shifts around to compensate for that.
The Blue Jays have the same top four in the order as yesterday: Scutaro, Hill, Rios, and Wells, although Wells is DHing and Rios is in center today; Adam Lind follows in left; Jose Bautista, who was in left yesterday, is at third base today in relief of Scott Rolen; Lyle Overbay, with a righty on the mound, is back at first; Rod Barajas is catching, which he likely would have done today whether Michael Barrett was injured or not; and the youngster Travis Snider is in right field.
The announcers yesterday hinted that the roof might be open today, but they appear to have hinted wrong: mlb.com's box score says the roof is closed, so it's 68 degrees and no wind for this one.
We're away with a soft fastball inside for a ball. The second pitch is ripped back up the middle, where it bounces off of Tallet, who picks the ball up and throws wide of first, letting Sweeney get all the way to third, where he reaches narrowly and without a slide. I'm not sure why he didn't slide, but it worked out ok, I guess. Sweeney really hit that ball hard, and now there's a question of where Tallet got hit and whether he can continue in the game. This would be a horrible break for Toronto because they already went deep into their bullpen yesterday, and Tallet's a replacement for Litsch. You have to feel most bad for Tallet because even if he shouldn't be out there, he's going to feel the pressure to stay out there.
Tallet will stay in the game, at least for now. It appears the ball hit him on the pitching hand, as the camera zooms in and shows the hand quite pink. Tallet is also squeezing the hand, appearing to try to work some feeling back into it.
Cabrera grounds the first pitch, a low-and-away fastball, to second, but his bat breaks, which appears to confuse Sweeney, who doesn't move from third. The infield was back, so he would have scored easily, but Sweeney may have seen the broken chunk of bat moving toward the mound and read it as the ball.
The mistakes ends up harmless as Giambi grounds into the shifted defense, allowing Sweeney to score. Sweeney's being interrogated by Bob Geren in the dugout after that.
Holliday then grounds to short on the second pitch he sees. So despite all the drama on just the second pitch of the game, it ends up costing Toronto just one run, and Tallet uses only eight pitches in the inning. Since he's on a pitch count today, his ability to hit the zone and get the A's to make contact will be crucial. He did that very well in the first. What he did even better was hit the zone with his pitches -- the three outs were all on low pitches that were likely strikes but which the A's hitters probably couldn't do anything with. You'd like to see them take those strikes, though, and see if they can get anything better later in the count.
Trevor Cahill starts the game right with a sinker hit by Scutaro for a ground ball at Crosby for out number one. The announcers just described Cahill as having "excellent command" despite his eight walks in twelve innings so far.
Cahill does start Aaron Hill with two strikes, one taken down the middle, the other taken on the outside corner. Hill spits on Cahill's slider low and away, taking things to 1-2, but he goes after the next one, which dives low, but over the plate, rolling the ball to Cabrera for an easy out. I still have yet to see Orlando make a throw with his feet set under him.
Cahill's quickly at 0-2 on Rios after a called first strike and then a bouncing ball foul toward third. Another nice sinker dives way down in the zone and Rios can't do anything with it but ground it on a chop to Crosby at third, who throws Rios out easily. So Cahill's first inning is an unqualified success: eight pitches, seven strikes, three easy groundouts. If Anderson is the new Mark Mulder, can Cahill be the new Tim Hudson? The similarities between Hudson and Cahill aren't as striking to me as the ones between Mulder and Anderson, but the groundball-inducing sinker and the slight command issues may produce similar results as Hudson had.
The shift is on for Jack Cust, and the count is at 1-2 after two taken pitches and a foul grounder. The next pitch is up and in and Cust fights it off on a fly to left field. Adam Lind charges in and makes a dive -- the ball goes into his glove and then pops out. Cust was slow out of the box, so it ends up being a close play at second as Lind makes a very nice throw from his knees. I think Cust got his heel on the bag at the same moment that the tag was applied. So Jack Cust has a fortunate double, and the A's have the leadoff man in scoring position again.
Kurt Suzuki pops the first pitch foul on a bunt attempt. I don't really understand that one. It's a little too early for that kind of play. Suzuki's not bunting on the second pitch, though, and he hits another ball foul. Tallet then throws a nice slider that breaks down under Suzuki's bat for strike three swinging.
Mark Ellis will get the chance to do some damage now. The first fastball is down, taken for a ball, and the second pitch is left up, so Ellis goes after it, but it's a changeup, so he's out in front, evening the count. Tallet muscles up his third pitch, the first I've noticed to crack 90 mph, and Ellis swings through that one as well, even though it was low and away. The A's are really swinging at Tallet's pitches here early, in marked contrast to their patient approach yesterday against David Purcey. The 2-2 pitch is down the middle, but it appears to be a slider, and Ellis can't get good wood on it, popping it up to Overbay at first for a harmless second out.
Bobby Crosby pops a 1-0 pitch left up by Tallet into center for an easy flyout, and the A's leave Cust at second after the leadoff double. That may be the second-most frustrating thing a baseball team can do behind a pitcher walking the leadoff man.
You have to like how quickly Cahill works. He throws a first pitch ball to Wells, but follows that up with two called strikes before running a two-seamer in on Wells's hands for a weak ground ball just to the right of the mound, which Cahill pounces on for an easy throw to first.
Cahill gets a couple of pitches elevated to Adam Lind, resulting in a 3-1 count. He does get to 3-2, but he leaves the payoff pitch up, so Lind drives it through the 56 hole for a nice line-drive single. Cahill's pitches were consistently up to Lind, which is what resulted in the unfavorable count and then the hit.
He starts Bautista off the right way, though, with two low pitches resulting in a called strike and a foul ball. The 1-2 pitch is chopped up over Cahill's head, too high for the double play, but the out at first is an easy one for Cabrera.
Cahill's pitches move to much for his own good against Overbay, and Lyle walks on five pitches. So Cahill has dominated the righties and struggled against the lefties so far. Cahill's pitches are just as nasty against the left-handed batters, and it might just be random chance that his command deserted him against those two particular hitters.
Barajas starts off 0-2 against Cahill with a foul ball and a swinging strike right through a two-seamer. Cahill elevates the 1-2 pitch pretty extremely, to the point where it might have been intentional, and it jams Barajas into hitting a soft liner right at Orlando Cabrera. So Cahill's second inning wasn't as masterful as his first, but the results still work: no runs.
Rajai Davis continues the trend of swinging early, going after the first pitch and grounding weakly back to Tallet. His speed makes it a relatively close play, but not that close.
Sweeney gets the count to 3-1 before walking on an inside fastball. He's doing his job as leadoff man, taking pitches, getting on base. If the rest of the team can start to emulate his approach, maybe they'll get some results today.
Cabrera appears to be doing just that, taking the first borderline pitch low for a ball, then the second borderline pitch, a slider on the outside corner, for a strike. The next two pitches miss narrowly, one perhaps just high and the next outside, so Cabrera's in a hitter's count. He briefly shows bunt on the 3-1 pitch, but it's a fastball that comes inside for strike two. The announcers speculate, and I agree, that Cabrera was taking all the way, as he's perfectly comfortable hitting with two strikes and letting Sweeney get a running start at first. And indeed, that works out, as the low fastball is grounded into an easy 4-6-3 ball, but with Sweeney running, there's no play at second, so instead of the inning ending, Sweeney's on second with two outs for Jason Giambi.
Tallet does a good job getting ahead of Giambi 0-2. The second strike was low and away but definitely a strike. The first, I couldn't tell because the director made the inexplicable decision to stay with the wide behind-the-plate shot, showing us the shift, rather than cut back to the over-the-shoulder to show us the pitch. Tallet's next three pitches are all fastballs taken outside, however, which sends the count to 3-2. The next pitch is popped into shallow left, which should be an easy play, but the shift means that Scutaro has to run all the way over from his spot to the right of second base to make the play. Make it he does, however, and the inning is over.
Another lefty does more against Cahill than the righties haven't, as Travis Snider hits the ball sharply, but it's still on the ground, and it's in the direction of Mark Ellis. Aside from that weird through-the-wickets play yesterday, Ellis lets very little get past him, and he knocks this one down, then pounces on it for the first out.
The L-R trend continues as Cahill starts Scutaro off with two strikes, although the count then evens as Scutaro refuses to chase Cahill's strikeout pitches. Cahill then winds up walking him as the 3-2 pitch gets away from him and bounces in the dirt. So that makes two walks, no strikeouts, six ground balls, and two line drives so far.
Make that three line drives as Hill winds up smacking one, but it goes right at Bobby Crosby for an out. Hill, as the announcers note, is just ripping the ball so far this year.
Rios, in sharp contrast, is zero for his last fifteen, but he finally breaks that with a medium grounder that just finds the 56 hole, just out of the reach of Orlando Cabrera. Even if Cabrera got to that ball, he probably wouldn't have had a play. Seven ground balls, then.
Vernon Wells hits another grounder, although it's struck well. Wells hit it right back to Cahill, who sort of stuck his glove out and the ball slammed into it. The easy throw to first ends the inning. No batter has hit the ball more than about six feet into the air so far, which is pretty striking. On the other hand, Cahill has had, I think, only two swing-and-misses so far.
Matt Holliday hits a 1-0 pitch for a fly ball to Snider on which the right fielder basically doesn't move.
Jack Cust then hits the same ball to left. Adam Lind takes half a step in and makes the catch. If it weren't for the fact that the A's just made two quick outs, this would be amusing.
Tallet is still shy of 50 pitches, although he's at 2-1 on Suzuki. Kurt, though, hits a high fly to center on pitch #49 for the third out. Tallet, then, even with the short pitch limit, looks like he may make it through six before being forced to yield to the bullpen. Given the way the A's hit the Toronto bullpen yesterday, this has to be considered unfortunate.
Cahill continues his struggles against Toronto lefties, walking Adam Lind to start the fourth. Bautista drops down a sacrifice. Cahill may have had a chance at second, but it would have been a very close play, so he took the out at first.
Cahill then walks another lefty, as Overbay takes first on five pitches. So the count is four walks, nine grounders, and three line drives.
Up comes Rod Barajas, though, who's not a real walkin' kind of guy. Barajas, though, does a nice job of holding up on a 2-2 sinker down and away, which loads the count. He then misses badly on that pitch, which unloads the count but loads the bases.
Unfortunately, it's Travis Snider coming to the plate, and even if Snider, who's a good hitter, can't get the job done, he'll be followed by Marco Scutaro. Snider doesn't really get the job done, grounding a ball to first (on a nice pitch by Cahill), but Giambi makes a poor throw to second, killing any chance at getting the double play, so the run comes in.
Cahill then follows that up by letting a two-seamer get away from him and hit Scutaro square in the arm/rib area, so the bases are loaded again, this time for Aaron Hill.
And Orlando Cabrera saves the A's! Hill hit a medium grounder toward the 56 hole, but Cabrera gets over, slides into the ball, gloves it cleanly, pops to his feet and makes a good throw to first to get Hill by 1/4 of a step. Well, that's why the A's are paying Cabrera!
So the count after four innings for Cahill is five walks, one HBP, eleven grounders, and three line drives. He still has no strike outs. If he wants to be Tim Hudson or Brandon Webb, he's really going to have to start converting some of these two-strike counts into whiffs. So far, Toronto has been spitting on his two-strike slider.
The A's, meanwhile, have seemingly hit nothing but high fly balls, as Mark Ellis hits a 1-2 pitch to Alex Rios in center for the first out.
Just as I write that, Bobby Crosby finally hits one on the ground, and sharply. Bobby hit the ball very well down the third base line, but Bautista did a nice job diving to his right to take a double away.
Rajai then pops up a low pitch to Hill at second, so it's another quick inning for Brian Tallet, who finishes the inning with a pitch count under 60. At this rate, forget six, the A's might let him go seven.
Meanwhile, this is an important inning for Cahill. He needs to shake off the struggles of the last inning and have a shutdown frame to keep the game tied and get the offense (which will be at the top of the order in the top of the sixth) back onto the field.
He starts it off well, getting a called strike and then a swinging strike to start 0-2 before an easy ground ball hit right at Cabrera. That's an excellent way to start.
But Vernon Wells strokes a pitch up and in for a strong line drive right down the left-field line. It skips up into the stands in foul ground for a ground-rule double.
Cahill runs the count to 3-2 on Lind with some shaky command again, but then gets an accidental strikeout, his first of the day. Suzuki was trying to get a fastball low and away, but the pitch went up and in. Fortunately for Cahill, Lind took it and it slid back and caught a lot of the inside half of the plate.
Cahill then appears to figure that as long as he's breaking trends, he may as well break all of them, as Bautista hits a fly ball to Ryan Sweeney in right for the third out. So now there's finally some variety in the results: five walks, one HBP, twelve grounders, five line drives, one whiff, and one fly ball.
Ryan Sweeney continues to be the man on the offense against Tallet, as he strokes a ball to center, just off to the right. It hits the wall on the fly, about two feet shy of a homer, and the A's now have the leadoff man in scoring position for the third time in six innings.
Cabrera skies one into foul territory about halfway between first base and the first field wall. Travis Snider gets over and makes the catch right next to the stands, but Sweeney does a nice job to tag and move up to third on the play, so a Giambi fly-ball gives the A's the lead.
The infield is both shifted and in against Giambi, but it doesn't matter because Giambi hits a line drive to right that gets to the wall, giving the A's a 2-1 lead and another runner in scoring position. That was a classic Giambi piece of hitting, a pitch that looked pretty good for the pitcher, but which Giambi was able to get his hands in on and stroke into right.
Tallet then starts Matt Holliday off with a fastball up that gets away from Rod Barajas for a passed ball, allowing Giambi to go to third. So for the second straight game, Cito Gaston comes out to remove his starting pitcher after a ball gets to the backstop, and mid-batter. You don't see that every series. Shawn Camp will be coming in for the Blue Jays with a runner on third, one out, a 2-1 deficit, and a 1-0 count on Matt Holliday.
Holliday smacks the first pitch on a line toward the 56 hole, but Scutaro is able to dive for it and catch it in the air, so Scutaro saves a run for the Blue Jays. If Scutaro is at normal depth, that ball would have bounced, because it wasn't actually hit that hard as line drives go.
The count starts 2-0 on Cust before he takes two strikes, then ball three just off the outside. Camp breaks off a nice slider on the payoff pitch that sweeps toward the inside as Cust swings over the top of it. A nice pitch by Shawn Camp, and exactly the kind of pitch that Cust is going to whiff on. So the A's take the lead, but leave a runner at third base.
Lyle Overbay hits Cahill's first pitch for a line/fly double into the 89 gap. The pitch was up and Overbay did what you're supposed to do with it.
Rod Barajas squares to bunt on Cahill's first two pitches, but takes them both low for balls. After taking a strike, Barajas lays down a perfect bunt toward Giambi at first. Giambi has his usual problem with the throw, short-hopping Ellis at first, but Mark makes the catch anyway.
So Travis Snider comes up with the chance to tie the game with a fly ball. He fouls the first pitch back. The second is a nice changeup that he swings over the top of, and the count is 0-2. Cahill doubles up on that pitch, and it dives unhittably out of the zone, but Snider holds up. The 1-2 pitch is skipped just through the 34 hole, past a diving Giambi and a diving Ellis, who were of course drawn in to cut off the run at the plate. The game is tied and Bob Geren comes out to take the ball from Cahill. Once again, then, Cahill will not get a win. He did pitch mostly well, if shakily. The runner on first is his, so if Snider comes around to score, Cahill could take the (undeserved) loss.
Michael Wuertz comes in for the second straight day and actually, shockingly enough, starts Marco Scutaro off with a fastball, which Marco swings through. Scutaro then hits the next pitch, a fastball in, high into the air, but he just got under it, so it stays playable for Matt Holliday in left.
Hill got robbed by Cabrera last time and hit a line shot right at Bobby Crosby the time before that, and this time hits a little nubber down the third base line. It stays fair and there's no chance at a play anywhere, so there are runners one first and second with two outs.
Wuertz starts Rios off with ... well, I don't know what that was. It slid back toward Rios, so maybe it was a changeup? It was pretty fast for a changeup. Does Wuertz have a two-seamer? I'll call it a two-seamer. Anyway, Rios took it for a strike, and then chased a slider down and away for strike two before taking a nearly identical pitch for ball one. Wuertz tries it one more time, but misses badly to run the count to 2-2. Wuertz throws one more slider, but this one stays in the middle, diving down and under Rios's swing for strike three, ending the inning. Cahill will get a no-decision for his 5.1 innings of two-run work, and Wuertz is now the pitcher of record should the A's score in the seventh.
Kurt Suzuki starts things off with an easy ground ball to Bautista at third base against Shawn Camp. Mark Ellis fares no better, striking out on three pitches, the last a slider that breaks away off the plate. I can't wait for Shawn Camp to leave this game.
Crosby's at least working Camp a little bit, getting the count to 3-2 and hitting a foul ball before walking on a slider down out of the zone. Is it me, or is Crosby's approach at the plate better than it has been in the last few years?
Now, though, it's time for Rajai Davis, who's not a guy likely to drive a ball into a gap to bring Crosby home from first. (I say this in hopes of a reverse jinx, of course. It worked for Crosby's triple yesterday!) Well, that sorta worked. Davis pokes one into the 34 hole for his first hit of the day, and just, I think, his second hit of the season. The go-ahead run is thus in scoring position for Ryan Sweeney, who's done a very nice job at the plate today. It won't be against Shawn Camp, though, as Cito Gaston comes out to let Scott Downs, a lefty, take a shot at Sweeney. Sweeney's damage today all came against the lefty Tallet, though.
Sweeney grounds one fairly sharply up the middle, but Scutaro is there. A wacky thing then happens, as Scutaro looks ready to flip to Hill, who's running to cover second, but realizes at the last moment that Rajai Davis is the fastest dude around and is actually going to beat Hill to the bag, so Scutaro pulls the ball back and makes a clean, accurate throw to first to get Sweeney. That was near-disaster for Toronto caused by Davis's speed and hustle, but Scutaro's level-headedness and steady throw meant things worked out for them.
Russ Springer comes in for the A's and gets a first-pitch popout from Alex Rios to Mark Ellis in shallow center. That ball hung up there for a long time. (The A's have apparently sent Jerry Blevins down and called up the recently acquired Dan Giese, which is news to me. Blevins hadn't pitched that well, but he's a pretty ok reliever. More on this later after I look into things.)
Springer's up 1-2 on Lind after a nice slider gets past Lind. Springer really doesn't look like he's throwing hard. He almost looks like he's lobbing the ball up there, in terms of his motion, but his fastball is still clocking at 90, and his slider comes in at 85 with a pretty nice, sharp break. On the 2-2 pitch, Lind takes a nice swing, but the ball came in and jammed him, so the fly ball to right is an easy one for Sweeney, and there are two outs for Bautista.
(Having googled, Blevins was apparently sent down for no particular reason beyond "we want him to work himself into where he's good again." It doesn't appear that the A's desperately wanted Giese, who's 32 and has all of 28 games in the majors, as much as they didn't want Blevins working through his struggles in the majors.)
Meanwhile, Russ Springer makes Bautista look foolish twice in the at-bat, once getting one of those little half swings and then striking him out on a pitch way up and away. Thus the inning ends and we go to the eighth still tied.
Aaron Hill appears to have no interest in paying Orlando Cabrera back for the robbery Cabrera executed earlier. Cabrera hit a ground ball right at Hill, but Hill got an awkward hop and completely misplayed it, allowing the ball to get right under him into right field, so Orlando is now at first for Giambi.
Giambi, however, gets jammed and pops a pitch into shallow center that Marco Scutaro goes and gets. It was a nice play by Scutaro. Not a web gem or anything, but not a simple play either.
The count goes to 3-2, so Bob Geren decides to send Cabrera, but Holliday whiffs on a slider or change from Downs, and Cabrera didn't get a good jump, so he's out by a mile at second base. The A's can't take advantage of Hill's error.
Sandy Casilla comes on for the A's in the bottom of the eighth inning. He gets quickly ahead of Overbay, who's perfect on the day, 0-2. Overbay nearly continues his perfect day by ripping one down the right-field line, but it's just foul past a sliding Giambi. The next pitch is a nice fastball low in the zone that Overbay taps weakly to Ellis for the first out of the inning and the first out Overbay's made today.
Casilla's first fastball to Barajas has that appearance of riding/rising that the hard throwers sometimes get. Nobody's fastball actually rises if they throw overhand, but it's an in interesting illusion when it seems like it does. Anyway, the pitch was fouled back, and the second was a slider popped into right for Mark Ellis. Travis Snider follows by skying the first pitch he sees into right, where Ryan Sweeney comes in (he was playing Snider very deep) to make the easy play. Casilla throws a nice 1-2-3 inning against the bottom of the Jays' order, so the A's have a chance to take a lead in the top of the ninth and hand the game to Ziegler for the bottom.
Scott Downs is still pitching for the Blue Jays, and it's a good call by Gaston, as he's been effective. He'll at least pitch to Cust, who's behind 0-2 on a foul ball and a whiff. The next pitch is dribbled down the first base line, and pretty much anyone on the team but Cust would have beat this out, but Downs pounces on the ball and gets Cust by half a step. Cust isn't the horrible athlete he's sometimes made out to be, but he does not run with much speed.
Kurt Suzuki hits the second pitch he sees sharply on the ground, but Lyle Overbay makes a very nice backhand play to get the out at first. Mark Ellis then flies out to right, and the Blue Jays will get their chance to win the game.
Casilla stays on to pitch a second inning against the top of the Toronto order, but he's behind 2-0 on Scutaro. My heart is beating. Rather more quickly than it usually does. The count goes to 3-0, but Casilla burns the next two right down the middle to load the count. The payoff pitch is a fastball a touch high, though, and there's the winning run on first base.
Hill hits the 0-1 fastball well to center, but Rajai Davis is very fast and actually manages to get under the ball and set his feet to make the catch. Scutaro actually tags at first and takes second just ahead of the throw from Davis, which was a little off-line. The analyst is praising Scutaro to the heavens on that play, but I read it as a very unnecessary risk.
A not-unnecessary risk, though, is Scutaro stealing third by a mile as Casilla just forgot about him. Suzuki actually very nearly threw the ball into left, which would have ended the game, but Crosby made a nice leaping/diving catch on the ball to keep the game alive. Rios, now, is swinging at pitches rather anxiously, and he's behind 1-2. Casilla throws his wipeout slider, but it's way outside and Rios takes it, evening the count. The next pitch dives low and away and squirts away from Suzuki, but Kurt pounces on it quickly, so Scutaro can't go anywhere. The 3-2 slider is a very nice pitch, but Rios spits on it and walks to first.
Don't you have to bring in Brad Ziegler for the double-play here? Yeah, it looks like Geren ... no, he's just coming out to talk. It looks like Ziegler isn't coming into the game. To the extent that Geren doesn't want to use Ziegler because he's the "closer", this is where labels are very unfortunate. But I'm not really willing to make that leap -- Casilla's a good pitcher with a good diving slider who is capable of getting out of this himself, so there are good reasons to leave him in as well. Further, Wells and Rios both run well, so a double play might not even happen on a ground ball.
In fact, the A's leave the infield completely in, not looking for the GIDP at all. Wells grounds one right to Ellis and Scutaro is hung up off of third! Scutaro's out in the run down, and Rios can't get past second. Suzuki ran that run-down very well, not making a throw that might have allowed Rios to move up. Scutaro was moving on contact on orders of the dugout, so he just got unlucky that the ball was right at Ellis.
So now it's two outs with the winning run on second for Adam Lind, who's at 1-1 after a fastball and a change are taken. A ground ball foul, and it's two strikes on Lind. Suzuki is going through a series of signs, but it's taking a while, so it looks like he's just going to go out and ask Sandy what pitch he wants to throw. And the slider on the outside corner freezes Lind for the end of the inning!
Marco Scutaro was nearly the hero of the day again, as he's done so many times in the past, walking, taking second on the fly ball to center, and stealing third, but Bobby Crosby kept Kurt Suzuki's errant throw from ending the game and Sandy Casilla got a weak ground ball from Vernon Wells at exactly the right time. (The ball, in fact, was one that the A's would have had serious difficulty turning two on had they been at that depth, so the decision to keep the play at the plate in order also worked out.)
And we're to extras! Toronto sends out another lefty, the closer BJ Ryan, to start the tenth. Bobby Crosby will lead things off. Crosby puts good wood on a low fastball from Ryan, but it's a fly ball that Wells grabs easily.
Rajai is looking bunt on the first pitch, but he lets it go and it's in there for a strike. If Davis can work his way on base (he's taken two balls now), you have to think he's going to be stealing. That's basically his entire purpose on the team: play defense and steal bases. Davis shows bunt on the 3-1 pitch, but not really, letting it go for a strike. He then fouls off the first payoff pitch. Ryan should be content to just burn it down the middle and force Davis to hit a ball hard somewhere, but he misses inside with the second payoff pitch, and Davis is on first. First pitch running? It's Sweeney at the plate, though, and he's hit well today, so you don't want to take the bat out of his hands.
Ryan also does the necessary, throwing a first pitch-slider to Sweeney. The next pitch is lined slicing toward left, but it's foul by about 12 feet. Sweeney then chases the 0-2 fastball up, getting just a little nick of the ball, but it's fouled straight into Barajas's glove, so that's a whiff for Ryan.
Cabrera takes ball one, which maybe leaves Davis with a better count to steal on. After strike one, Davis was in fact running on the 1-1 pitch. Sadly, it wasn't a pitch but a pickoff, and Davis is out at second easily. Damn.
Dan Giese comes on to pitch the tenth, making his A's debut in a pretty crucial spot. He's a short-arming righty with an uncomplicated delivery. It looks like his fastball comes in around 86-88, but his control does not appear good on the free-swinging Bautista, who walks. So again the winning run is on first for the Blue Jays with no one out.
Overbay hits a 2-0 fastball sharply on the ground toward the 34 hole, but Ellis is a vacuum again, scooping it up and spinning to throw for the out at second. Cabrera makes a valiant effort to complete the double play, but Overbay beats it out.
Rod Barajas then jumps on the first pitch from Giese and nearly wins the game with a two-run homer, but Holliday tracks down the high fly ball on the warning track in left for the second out. That was a scary ball for me, and the crowd at the game felt it might be gone off the bat, as a roar came out as the ball skied toward the outfield.
Giese gets to 2-2 on Snider, the next pitch is a slider in the middle of the plate but lowish, and Snider breaks his bat on a fly ball right at Sweeney in right field. So Dan Giese survives his first outing as an Athletic. One has to figure that, even has shaky as he looked against the bottom of the order, given that Springer, Wuertz, and Casilla have already been used, Giese could be back for the bottom of the 11th if the A's don't score. Oakland does still have Sean Gallagher down there, and he didn't pitch yesterday, the day after a travel day, so he could be available to go a couple innings if needed.
Jesse Carlson come on for Toronto, yet another lefty. The A's, without Blevins, don't actually have a lefty in their pen right now. The Blue Jays, by contrast, seem to have only lefties.
Carlson gets Orlando Cabrera on a lazy fly to center, bringing Giambi up. Giambi pops one up in foul territory that winds up in the first row of seats. If Bautista were at his normal position at third rather than over in the shortstop hole, he might have gotten there in time to take away a souvenir and put Giambi in the dugout. It winds up not mattering much as Giambi taps one back left of the mound. Carlson makes an easy play, and there are two out for Matt Holliday, who grounds out on a tapper to third right down the line. So we'll go to the bottom of the eleventh with another scoreless inning needed to keep this one in play.
Dan Giese does in fact continue for Oakland, and he gets ahead 0-2 on Scutaro with a fastball and a slider taken. Scutaro winds up flying out to shallow right on a nice low slider by Giese.
The crowd and I both thought the game was over once again as Giese hung a breaker to Aaron Hill, which Hill hit a long way to left, and loudly, but Holliday tracked it down just shy of the warning track for the second out of the inning.
Rios then follows up with a roller up the middle. Cabrera had a long way to go for it, but gloved it and made his trademark off-balance throw that one-hopped Giambi, who scooped it out of the dirt to end the 11th. Giese's second inning featured more command than his first, but the couple of loud outs to left were frightening enough that I hope we'll be seeing Brad Ziegler in the 12th. I'd settle for Sean Gallagher, but I don't see any reason not to use your best pitchers. One run is all it takes to end things, so waiting for a save situation is senseless.
Carlson stays on for his second inning of work, and he'll face Jack Cust, who gets ahead 2-0 before swinging right through a down-the-middle fastball. Cust strikes out looking, though, with a low-and-away fastball that was really a borderline strike. Cito Gaston, though, apparently only intended Carlson to pitch to the lefty Cust, so on come Jason Frasor to pitch to the righties Suzuki and Ellis (and, if necessary, Crosby and Davis).
By my clock, we're at 3:16 of game time so far, which is not bad given that we're in the top of the 12th.
Suzuki gets a fastball inside and tries to tuck his hands in on it, but can only get a flyball out to Wells for an easy out. Mark Ellis then pops up a fastball in foul territory to Lyle Overbay, so Frasor gets two outs in three pitches and we'll go to the bottom of the twelfth, where I very hope we'll see Brad Ziegler.
Instead we get Dan Giese yet again. Vernon Wells starts things off with a first-pitch easy fly ball to Rajai in center. Adam Lind then takes a longer at-bat, but equivalent result: slow roller to Mark Ellis at second.
But Giese walks Bautista (Jose's second walk of the game) and then goes to 1-0 on Overbay, who this time finally does end the game with a walkoff homer. Dammit, Bob Geren, didn't you notice the two previous times the Blue Jays almost won the game with long fly balls? One finally got out as Giese hung a fastball. It was basically a batting practice fastball, and Overbay did with it what professional hitters do with batting practice fastballs. That was disappointing.