Tagged: Matt Holliday

And I Thought The Last Game I Wrote About Was Bizarre!

A Record-Breaking Comeback of Epic Proportions:  Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins was one for the record books.  Gio Gonzales got the first 2 outs of the game and then everything fell apart for him.  I won’t go into the nasty details because they turned out to be a non-issue, except for the substantial hit Gio’s ERA took.  Suffice it to say that after 2.5 innings the score was 12-2 Twins, which included Jason Kubel’s 3-run blast in the 1st, Justin Morneau’s grand slam in the 2nd,  Michael Cuddyer’s solo shot right after Morneau’s grand salame, and Morneau’s 3-run encore in the top of the 3rd. After the last home run, Gio was lifted for Santiago Casilla. It looked pretty bleak at that point.

But the stars were aligned in the A’s corner for the rest of the game. 
Matt Holliday's slam 7-20-09.jpgThey scored 3 runs in the bottom of the third (Daric Barton’s homer plated 2 of them), 2 runs in the 4th (on Matt Holliday’s first dinger) and
 7 runs in the 7th inning which included a 2 run double by Orlando Cabrera and Matt Holliday’s  grand slam to tie the game at 13-13, followed by a solo
Jack cust's homer 14-13  7-20-09.jpgshot from Jack Cust to put the A’s ahead for good.  A questionable play at the plate that was called the A’s way ended the game in
Controversial Play 7-20-09.jpgthe bottom of the ninth.

 To put it in perspective, there were 27 runs scored, 39 hits, 8 homers, 9 doubles, and 2 errors in the game.  The A’s stroked 22 hits and had NO strikeouts! The game lasted 3 hours and 32 minutes, and the paid attendance was 10,283, a large portion of whom had left before the A’s slugfest in the 7th ining.  More than one record was set in this amazing game but the best was that the ten-run deficit in the 3rd was the largest one (by 2 runs) the Oakland A’s had ever recovered from to win a ballgame.

Matt Holliday summed it up best.  “We were down by 10 runs.  Hey, we had nothing to lose.  The guys just relaxed and had fun and didn’t quit.  They kept pecking away at it and hit what was thrown to them, mostly to the opposite field.”  Maybe this was a good lesson for the hitters:  when they don’t press too hard and don’t try to do too much, good things happen.

When Matt Holliday hit the grand slam to tie it, Bob Geren was positively animated:  he smiled weakly and faked a small fist pump.  After the game when interviewed in his office, the smile was gone and he was very matter of fact and droll.  Come on, guy, show some emotion.  It helps pump up the team.  Jeez, you’d think someone died!  My husband may be on to somthing:  he thinks Geren’s a robot!

Road Trip:  This will probably be my last post for over a week.  The A’s and I are going on the road–together!  Sports Travel and Tours has put together a wonderful Hall Of Fame Induction trip.  We fly to New York and go to the A’s-Yankees game Friday night in the new Yankee Stadium.  The next day we motor up to Cooperstown for two days, culminating in the Induction of Rickey Henderson into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 
Rickey running.jpgOn Monday, our bus takes us on to Boston where we watch the A’s play the Red Sox in Fenway Park that night.  The next day we drive back to New York where we go to the new Citi Field to see the Mets play the Colorado Rockies.  The following day we come home. Sounds pretty fabulous to me.  I am really jazzed about going.

So this is all you’ll hear from me most likely until late next week, when I will report on the trip and the A’s once again.  Go A’s!!! 

A Bizarre Win But We’ll Take it

The A’s Win a Weird One::  After an ugly loss the night before to start the 2nd half of the season, the A’s bounced back to win Friday night by a score of 7-3.  But this wasn’t a typical win as there were a total of 14 walks (7 for each team), 7 stolen bases (4 by the A’s!), and 17 hits (9 by the A’s) in the game.

The A’s faced Joe Saunders who usually has the A’s number, but he has been struggling of late and that continued last night.  He just didn’t look confident and gave the A’s opportunities in every inning he pitched. 
Crosby Hitting his Homer 7-17-09.jpg
 Unfortunately until the 4th inning, the A’s couldn’t capitalize on those gifts.  Bobby Crosby changed all that with a 3 run homer in the 4th. 
 
 The A’s never fell behind after that.

Morales’ Home Run:  Three events stand out from the rest of the oddities.  In the top of the 2nd inning, Kendry Morales hit a line drive to left that looked like it hit something near the fence and bounced back onto the field right to Matt Holliday.  The third base umpire called it a home run.  Bob Geren came out and asked for another opinion.  The Umps decided to do a video review and 3 of them left the field to look at various replays of the hit. 1 umpire had to stay on the field to make sure that none of the players moved from their positions. The slo-mo replay footage that  we saw in HD showed, at least to me (but not the TV broadcasters), that ithe ball hit the lens of the TV camera (over the wall) and bounced back onto the field.  This was confirmed when the umpires emerged from the tunnel under the stands and the crew chief indicated a home run by twirling his upraised index finger and clearly mouthed the words: “It hit the camera.”  I guess my eyesight is okay.  The amazing part of the whole thing is that the camera man didn’t even flinch when the ball hit his camera!

Rajai Dekes the Angel’s Catcher: In the bottom of the 4th, Raj Davis stroked a ball into the gap off Joe Saunders and motored into 2nd base.  He took his usual big lead and as Saunders began his move to the plate, Raj looked like he was going to take off for 3rd, but after a few steps he stopped.  The Angels catcher, Jeff Mathis glanced at Raj and obviously thought Raj would retreat to 2nd.  Instead, when Mathis softly tossed the ball back to the pitcher, Raj took off and stole 3rd cleanly.  He scored on Crosby’s homer 2 batters later.  What a great acting job, Raj!

Run, Raj, Run! In the bottom of the 6th, Raj Davis walked to lead off the inning.  With Mark Ellis at the plate, Raj got caught a little too ffar off 1st base.  But Saunders’ throw to 1st was way off target and went into right field rattling around among the chairs on the field near the Angel’s bullpen. 
Davis's Run 7-17-09.jpg
  Raj took off and flew around the bases and beat the throw to home, putting the A’s ahead for good. 

Hairston Gets Drilled a la Bobby Crosby:  In the bottom of the 8th, one of Justin Speier’s sliders failed to break and hit Scott Hairston on the hand. 
Hairston gets Drilled 7-17-09.jpgOh, no, I thought.  Isn’t that the same guy who broke Bobby Crosby’s hand with a similar pitch last year? Yup.  I hope Scott is okay.  We need him in the lineup. 

In short, it was a strange game, but the result was great.  As Glen Kuiper said, “This game was not a thing of beauty.”

Pitching Ups and Downs

Young Pitching:  The A’s young hurlers are having some successes and failures, and some of the good things don’t show up in the win column.  We have to remember they are all under the age of 25, except the “veteran” Dallas Braden, who will be 26 on August 13th.  These young guys are learning how to be professional ballplayers in the major leagues, not in the minors where pitchers typically spend 4 or more years before being called up.

Brett Anderson had a terrific complete-game 2-hitter against the Red Sox in Fenway, which was electricfying to watch.  
scan0009.jpgEven the Sox fans acknowledged his feat with respect.  The day before, Gio Gonzalez looked great in his 5-2 victory over Cy Young winner Cliff Lee in Cleveland. But those were the only bright spots since Dallas Braden beat Justin Verlander on July 1st in  Oakland. 

Trevor Cahill struggled mightily in Cleveland, lasting 3.2 innings and giving up 8 runs (5 earned).  In Boston, he pitched well for 5 innings, but in the 6th gave up a solo home run to J.D. Drew and a 3-run shot to David Ortiz  Maybe Bob Geren needs to pull these young kids when they first get into trouble (like after Drew’s solo homer) until they get used to facing tough major league hitting.  In general, I think Geren leaves pitchers in too long.

Unfortunately, Vin Mazzaro pitched too well in his first 2 starts with the A’s.  His luck has turned since then. 
scan0010.jpgIt didn’t help that twice he had to face the Giant’s Tim Lincecum who is having another career season this year.  He has taken the loss in his last 4 starts, although he pitched well in his last outing but got no run support.

I won’t even comment on the Dana Eveland loss.  I think the A’s need to cast him adrift or trade him.  He has shown us over the last couple of years that he can pitch well at the Triple-A level, but falls apart in the majors.  He just doesn’t fool major league hitting and I think the A’s need to wake up to that fact. 

I hope that Dallas Braden does well today in Tampa.  We need our “veteran” Ace back.

Silent Bats:  Mention must be made of the A’s lack of situational hitting.  A lot of the losses might have been wins if the A’s could have driven in maybe half of the runners they had in scoring position. It often seems as if the bats don’t come alive until the 8th or 9th inning when they are in the hole, sometimes a deep one.  It’s too little, too late. 

Jason Giambi has been a real disappointment to the team, the fans and himself.  No one wants to win more than the G man.  Unfortunately, it looks as if he’s a little late when he swings at fastballs and doesn’t make contact.  But he’s not the only one who strikes out or hits into double plays. It’s been happening all too often up and down the lineup. Matt Holliday certainly isn’t helping his chances of being traded to a contender.  In short, the A’s just aren’t getting the key hits when they need them.

Scott Hairston:  To finish on a brighter note, the aquisition of Scott Hairston was a brilliant move by Billy Beane. 
Scott Hairston's Homer 7-7-09.jpgWe control him through 2011, and he is a terrific hitter and can handle the center field position very well.  Maybe he can ignite the lineup and they can score more runs to help out the young pitching staff.  Time will tell.  I haven’t given up on the A’s yet.  I just hope they don’t finish in the cellar.

HALLELUJAH!! The A’s Won A Series and I Can Access My Blog!

I Can Post Articles on My Blog Again!  My last blog post was on June 16th.  The next day Comcast hooked up the last leg of my Triple Play package, and I dutifully logged in to mlblogs.com, went to “My Profile” and followed the instructions for changing my email address.  I blythely hit the “Submit” button.  I’m not much of a techie so I felt a real sense of accomplishment.   

 

A couple of days later, I decided to post a new article on my blog and logged in using my new email and password.  Up came an error message that stated in angry red:  “Authentication Error:  Email and/or password invalid.  Try again.”  Hmm.  Maybe the change didn’t go through, so I tried to log in using my old email address and password.  Same result.  I tried other email and password combinations to no avail.  Oh no, I couldn’t log in.  Disaster!  I can’t post any more articles?

 

I quickly emailed mlblogs.com and explained my plight.  To make a long story short, after 3+ weeks of emails and phone calls back and forth to 4 or 5 different people, most of whom kept telling me to log in using the old email address (which I kept telling them I couldn’t do), I found Jacob Wilson who understood what happened.  Bless his heart, he imported my blog with all prior articles, comments and photos into my new email account.  So I am back and writing again on all things A’s.

 

The A’s Team We Were Hoping Has Finally Showed Up!  Wow, the A’s won a series, and against the Tigers, the AL Central’s leading team.  Yahoo!!  I attended Monday night’s 7-1 victory in which Brett Anderson pitched scoreless ball into the 6th inning, when he walked two.
Brett Anderson.jpg The usually-reliable Michael Wuertz came in and gave up a double to Gerald Laird to score one of those walks, marring Brett’s great outing.  The A’s bats came alive in the 4th inning when Matt Holliday singled and Jason Giambi walked.  Kurt Suzuki doubled in Holliday and Ryan Sweeney singled in the G man, giving the A’s the lead for good.  The guys added on the rest of the  runs in the 5th and the 6th inning, Ellis homer 6-29-09.jpghighlighted by Mark Ellis’ first homer of the year, a two-run blast, and another two runs on Sweeney’s 3rd of the season. 
Sweeney Dinger 6-29-09.jpg
Small ball added the last run in the 8th.

 

Yesterday produced a 5-1 win to give the A’s the series win over Detroit.  Highlights included Dallas Braden
 pitching 7 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball,
 followed by 2 shutout innings from Brad Ziegler who now has the set-up role,  
Daily Bailey 7-1-09.jpg
and Andrew “Daily” Bailey, the team”s closer to everyone but Manager Bob Geren. 
 
The day’s offensive fireworks came on 2 homers from Jack Cust (14)
 and Jason Giambi (11)
Giambi Homer 6-29-09.jpgscoring 4 runs between them.  Detroit’s only run came in the top of the 2nd on a double from Gerald Laird, driving in Ryan Raburn who had singled.

 

I like this team.  I hope they continue to show up.  Maybe the much-hoped-for warm weather has finally arrived.

 

The Future is Now

Last night A’s fans were treated to something very special: Vin Mazarro made his major league debut for the A’s in Chicago. 
Vin Mazarro's Debut.jpgThe 22 year-old pitcher from Rutherford, New Jersey was called up yesterday to join the starting rotation, whose oldest member is a mere 25 years old.  That would be Dallas Braden, whose total MLB experience consists of 35 starts over the last 3 seasons.  He’s the veteran in the rotation!  The next younger is Josh Outman at 24, and Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson are both 21 years old.  This is the youngest rotation in all of major league baseball.

Mazarro didn’t disappoint.  He struggled a bit in the first 2 innings, but made quality pitches when he needed to and was helped out by stellar defense, including his great wheel and pickoff of Scott Podsednik as the latter strayed off 2nd base in the 1st. 


Mazarro Pick off.jpgFrom the 3rd inning on, Vin got his nerves under control and pitched 4.1  innings of shutout ball with ease.  Craig Breslow came in and got a double play to end the 7th inning and Brad Ziegler pitched the 8th and 9th innings. Neither gave up a run, preserving Mazarro’s 1st major league win, a 5-0 shutout of the White Sox. 

Mazarro was also helped by two great catches in the outfield.  Ryan Sweeney did a face plant into the padding in centerfield padding as he caught a long fly ball near the top of the wall, robbing Paul Konerko of extra bases.    Matt Holliday made a nice shoe string catch as well. 

Vin had a couple of dozen family members and friends from all over the country in the stands to cheer him on.  They could be heard making lots of noise with every strike and out that Mazarro rang up.  His dad hardly sat down for the 6+ innings his son pitched.

After he settled down, Mazarro’s pitches looked like those of a seasoned veteran, with great movement and velocity in the low to mid 90’s and he located his pitches very well.  “He kept us off balance. He had good stuff,” said Scott Podsednik. “You can see why their organization was high on him and brought him up and gave him a shot.”

 When manager Bob Geren announced Mazarro’s call up a couple of days ago, he said,  “The future is now!”  Vin certainly put paid to Geren’s words.  In short, Vin Mazarro showed us that he is the complete package, and I am sure that his success and poise on the mound, in what must have been a nerve-wracking pressure-packed situation,  will rub off on the other young pitchers on the staff.

Last night was truly special, for Vin, the A’s and the fans.  It was a glimpse into what is possible in the very near future, and gave the fans what they need most right now:  legitimate hope.  Maybe–keep your fingers crossed–it will translate into more butts in the seats at the Coliseum the rest of the season.

On that note, the A’s ran another hit promotion last night, taking a dollar off a plaza-level ticket for Saturday’s game against the Orioles.  The A’s got 8 hits last night so a $24 dollar ticket will now cost $16 each.  Go to the A’s website to order tickets and use the discount code “Hits” to get the reduced price.  Oh, and the game starts at 6:00 pm because there’s a free Jordan Sparks concert immediately following the game.  Such a deal!

Sweeney Saves the Day and Holliday Strokes a Dinger

I apologize for not posting an entry in over a week.  I have been under the weather for that period and we are without a hot water heater, because the old one decided some time ago to leak and rotted out the floor underneath it and the 2 nearby furnaces, which now have to come out so that the floor can be fixed.  GI showers with cold water are no fun!  Also, in less than 2 weeks I leave for a milestone high school reunion in Massachusetts which I am running, so I am tearing my hair out trying to get ready for that.,

Sweeney Saves the Day and Holiday gets a Dinger:  I hope you all saw Ryan Sweeney time his jump perfectly and reach over the wall to rob Ian Kinsler of a 3-run homer in the eighth inning yesterday in Texas.  It was a thing of beauty and saved the A’s lead.  I’m sure it made ESPN’s Web Gems last night.  Here is his being congratulated by Matt Holliday after making the spectacular catch.
Holliday congratuating Sweeney for robbing Kinsler of homer.jpg In the top of the ninth,  Holliday finally hit his first homer as an A.  I hope this opens the floodgates and he starts pounding the ball out of the park with regularity.

Eric Chavez to the DL?  Eric is one of the nicest guys on the planet and his presence in the clubhouse and the dugout are invaluable.  Having won more gold gloves than he can carry certainly speaks to his talent.  That being said, can he be healthy enough to contribute on the field or at the plate?  I just don’t know.  Last night, Bob Geren hinted that he might be headed for yet another stint on the DL. 

What Happened to Our Infield?  Yikes!  The infield was decimated in Texas.  Garciaparra and Ellis went down with calf injuries, Willy Casilla stepped down wrong on the mound and injured his calf and Brett Anderson got a blister on one of his pitching fingers, which is not a wimpy injury if you’re a pitcher.  It was a very bizarre game on Tuesday night in Arlington.  Jason Giambi gave his hanstrings too much of a workout in the same game and now he is day-to-day. I guess it’s back to the drawing board to raid the River Cats, once again.  Maybe we should activate Mike Gallego! 

Things were so bad last night that no one was available to warm up Michael Wuertz in the bottom of the ninth inning, so Manager Bob Geren, a former catcher, donned a mitt and crouched down behind the plate for a few pitches until Kurt Suzuki could get his gear on and relieve him.  Way to go, Bob.  I hope your hammies can take it. 

Now on to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field:  Let’s hope the A’s left the injury bug back in Texas.  They open a weekend series tonight in Seattle.  The Mariners are sitting in first place at the moment, although as my brother in Seattle often points out, “They’ll fade!”  I hope he’s right.  The A’s are only 3½ games behind the M’s.  This series could change that in a big way.

Hold it, Hot Off the Presses!  The A’s just now put Chavez on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm, retroactive to April 25th.  They recalled Gregorio Petit from Sacramento.  Petit was hitting a mere .238 at Triple A this season, but that is a whole heck of a lot better than Chavez’ .100 batting average.  Last year Gregorio batted .348 in 14 games over three stints with the A’s.