Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let's Play One: The Oakland A's, The Los Angeles Angels, and the Marathon While You Slept

I was asleep. Most of America was asleep. As Oakland and Los Angeles crept into the sixth hour of their slobberknocker, a majority of baseball fans had no idea what has happening. In a game without a clock, time stood still. In the wee hours of the Oakland midnight, it seemed as if the Athletics and Angels might play forever. The likely most maddening part of it all, is that going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Los Angeles was up by five runs. Apparently the Halos failed to remember that the A's hate to lose.


A Mark Trumbo double plated two runs in the fifth, giving the Angels a 6-1 advantage. Typically games like this get out of hand and out of reach. Oakland kept fighting. In the bottom of the sixth, Brandon Moss took a Tommy Hanson pitch deep and out to center, making the game 6-2. Then, just minutes later, Albert Pujols pounded his second home run of the game. What momentum the A's had acquired was as quickly squashed as it had arrived. Then, everything changed.

Jed Lowrie RBI single: 7-3
Josh Donaldson two-RBI single: 7-5
Chris Young RBI single: 7-6

In the bottom of the ninth, with the game tying run at third, Yoenis Cespedes nearly cleared the center field wall. Had the ball been four feet higher, the game would have ended. Still, Coco Crisp scored, and the game was tied.

Innings past well off into the night. The beginning of the game seemed like ages ago. Like a distant, fond memory you might swear feels like just yesterday, but in actuality was decades ago. In the first of the fifteenth, the Angels once again gained control with an Athletics miscue. A bases loaded walk allowed Brendan Harris to saunter home. Though a error like this may often prove fatal for clubs of lesser will, Oakland knew they would still get a chance at the plate. Lo and behold, Adam Rosales singled to drive in Derek Norris. All square at eight runs apiece.

The top of the nineteenth inning. Essentially, two full games have been played. Suppose we considered it this way- The first was a 7-7 tie. The second ended 1-1. Now, shall we say, a tiebreaker inning? Mark Trumbo chops to third. Josh Donaldson bare-hands it and whips to first in time. Some might lose concentration after nearly six and a half hours. Not Donaldson. So as the game always has, the home team gets last rites to each inning. The Oakland crowd had thinned greatly, though there were still many in attendance. In the bottom of the nineteenth inning, with two out and one on, Brandon Moss stepped to the plate for the ninth time in the game. With no balls and one strike to his count, Moss cracked a Barry Enright offering to deep right. Stretching into the early pre-dawn forever, the ball cleared O.co Coliseum's legal boundary. The game was over. Six hours and thirty two minutes after first pitch, it was done.

Oakland had come back twice. Los Angeles had surrendered the lead too many times, and in the end the same fire that drove the Athletics to the West Division title last season reigned supreme in a game which will surely be remembered for years by the few in the baseball world who were awake to see it to completion.

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