Tag Archives: Oakland Athletics

Athletics 3, Twins 1 (Series result — game scores below)

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Athletics 3, Twins 1 (Series result — game scores below)

I spent the bulk of my weekend at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland to see the Twins come to town instead of back in Minnesota for the annual family gathering at the cabin… because I have my priorities straight.  While I would have liked to have seen my extended family, particularly my cousins’ kids who I don’t see often enough, apparently they were able to see me on Saturday night, as I made it on the broadcast while Jack Morris rambled on about being in the Minnesota Lottery Winner’s Circle.  The friends I had gone to the game with had all left me to babysit the bobblehead dolls¹ and it was between innings and thus, I was looking down at either my scorebook or my phone the entire time.  Apparently this caused my grandmother to yell at me from all the way back in Minnesota, but unsurprisingly, I did not hear her and did not look up at her.

Getting on TV might be the personal non-actual-baseball-game-related highlight for the weekend, except that, also on Saturday, Trevor Plouffe tossed me a baseball during batting practice.  In fact, he tossed me two as the first one was intercepted by a kid in A’s gear that dove in front of me.  For the second time, wearing the away team’s jersey got me special recognition as the second baseball he tossed me, he announced was for me specifically.  My friend Jen Perez, who was standing behind me at the time, actually got a picture of him flipping me the baseball with her DSLR, as opposed to the picture I took of the baseball itself from my camera phone.

As I didn’t bother bringing my good camera to the park for any of the four games I went to², all of the pictures in the gallery below were taken by Jen.

As for the baseball itself… it was the team with the best record in baseball against the Twins. I think the Twins were lucky to take one (on Sunday). Here’s the bulleted recap of the four games:

  • Thursday: Athletics 3, Twins 0 — The John Lester-Yoenis Cespedes trade seems to be working out for Oakland as he took a perfect game into the 6th inning before surrendering a single to former A Kurt Suzuki.  At one point, with two runners on, Brian Dozier hit a ball over the wall that looked like it might be fair, to the point that he started doing the homerun trot, but alas, it had just hooked foul and the Twins didn’t score.  Lester wound up pitching a complete 9-inning shutout.  Yohan Pino also pitched well for the Twins, not giving up a hit until the third inning.  But that hit was a homerun by Stephen Vogt, which was preceded by a walk to Alberto Callaspo.  The A’s didn’t need anymore offense to win the game and more less just rode to victory on Lester’s coat tails.
  • Friday: Athletics 6, Twins 5 — I had this sinking feeling that the Twins were in danger of getting no-hit for the second night in a row as Scott Kazmir took a perfect game into the 5th.  Meanwhile, the A’s offense lit up in the 5th and 6th, giving them a 6-0 lead and it looked like it was going to be a runaway.   But the Twins bounced back with a 5 run 7th that was actually exciting to watch.  It seemed like, maybe, just maybe, they’d come back — and hey, at least they made it interesting.  In the 9th, with Kennys Vargas on first and two outs, Josh Willingham, another former A, launched what looked like might just be a go-ahead two run homer… that hooked just foul down the left field line.  It was deja vu with Dozier’s foul ball the night before.  Willingham struck out to end the game on the next pitch.
  • Saturday: Athletics 9, Twins 4 — The score of this game is closer than the game really was.  Trevor May, one of the Twins top pitching prospects, was making his major league debut as the starter for Minnesota and, uh, he did not do so well.  2 innings, 4 runs, 7 walks.  He threw more balls than strikes and two of those walks were bases loaded walks to Derek Norris.  Were it not for a 7-2 double play (Willingham gunning down Josh Reddick at home after tagging up), the damage would have been a lot worse in the first inning.  He was pulled early for Samuel Deduno, who was mostly there to eat innings.  And he ate them, but not prettily, giving up 5 more runs in 3+ innings of work.  The Twins managed to score a few runs here and there, but after the early blow up by May, it seemed mostly futile.  But hey, I got a baseball from Trevor Plouffe and was on TV, so it wasn’t all bad.
  • Sunday: Twins 6, Athletics 1 — The Twins finally won one!  With Phil Hughes starting, I figured that Sunday’s game was the game the Twins were most likely to win… and I was right.  Dozier started the Twins off with a solo homerun in the first, which the A’s responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to tie it up.  It remained at 1-1 for quite awhile, with Phil Hughes settling down and pitching a gem of a game.  Casey Fien started warming up after the 7th and it looked like Hughes might not get a decision out of his work, but then the former A’s on the Twins, Suzuki and Willingham, knocked in three runs in the top of the 8th, including a two run homerun by Willingham, which would turn out to be his last hit as a Twin, given that he was traded to the Royals today.  This set Hughes up for the win.  After Fien through a scoreless inning, Glen Perkins started warming up and I thought I might see a classic Perkins save, but the Twins offense and the A’s bullpen had other plans.  In the top of the 9th, the Twins scored another two runs, on a weird little infield hit from Kurt Suzuki with the bases loaded followed a bases loaded walk to Kennys Vargas.  I thought only the Twins were allowed to walk in runs!  With now a 5 run lead, it was no longer a save situation for Perk, but he came in to pitch anyway and mowed the A’s down 1-2-3 to finally, finally get the Twins a win against Oakland, something they hadn’t done in the previous 12 games the two teams had played.

 

¹ – It was Tony LaRussa bobblehead night on Saturday. As I remarked on twitter, the bobbleheads looked more like Kent Hrbek than LaRussa.
² – I still have hundreds of photos to go through from my recent trip to Denver with my parents to see the Twins take on the Rockies, which, uh, I should blog about. Also my trip to New York to see the Twins against the Yankees with Anand. I think I missed a random Giants game in this long stretch of a non-blogging summer too.

 

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Athletics 1, Blue Jays 0 – 12 innings

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I spent my 4th of July in Oakland, watching the best American Major League baseball team (by record) take on the best non-American Major League baseball team (by default… although the Blue Jays are no slouches this year).  In a sign of true patriotism, MLB teams were all wearing special stars and stripes hats.  The big question on my mind was whether or not the Blue Jays would have such a hat, because it seemed possible that MLB might be that dumb, but no, the Toronto team just sported a large maple leaf on their red caps.

After a rousing tailgate, which included many delicious sliders and brisket and tabbouleh and guacamole and bundt cakes, we got to our seats just as the bottom of the 1st was starting.  I flipped open my scorebook and… learned that I am out of pages to keep score in.  I vaguely remember noting this in Detroit a few weeks ago, but hadn’t bought a replacement scorebook in the meantime.  So, this recap comes entirely from memory and not from notes.

Luckily, there wasn’t a lot to remember… for a long time, no body scored.  The A’s turned a number of double plays to keep the Blue Jays from crossing home and Nick Punto appeared in the A’s line-up every nine at-bats to squash any rally the A’s might have had.  In the 10th inning, a member of our group who was bemoaning the fact that he was being “forced” to stay past the 6th inning in a game that wouldn’t end pointed out that Little Nicky Punto had just earned himself a sort of anti-cycle: getting out in four different ways with a strikeout, outfield fly out, infield pop out, and a ground out.  This gave me a chance to fill everyone in on the near mythical status of Nick Punto amongst Twins fans.

When Punto came up again in the 12th, with Derek Norris on 1st, my friend cried, “Oh, great, this guy! What new and exciting way will he find to get out this time?!”  But Punto, always one to disappoint you when you least expect it and always, always getting after it, dropped a weird little blooper into left that Melky Cabrera couldn’t handle.  In fact, not only couldn’t he catch it, but it seemed some weird magic Punto spell had been cast on it and he couldn’t even pick it up and throw it into the infield.  Norris scored, the A’s won, and just as he was approaching third, Punto attempted to tear open his jersey superman style… and failed.

Classic Nick Punto.

Oakland Athletics 4, San Francisco Giants 0

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Ah, baseball, you’re back and I’ve missed you.

The annual Bay Bridge pre-season series is happening now and last night, after getting some cheap tickets on StubHub and “stealing” a friend from one of my curling buddies, I went down the street to AT&T Park to catch my first baseball game of the year.  Now that interleague is an everyday occurrence, the Bay Bridge series lacks some of its original novelty, as these teams will face each other again in the regular season.  But it’s still fun to hear the bleachers break out into competing chants of “Let’s Go Giants!” and “Let’s Go Oakland!”

One tradition with these games, at least the ones in San Francisco, is the free grab bag giveaway.  They take all the giveaways that they have leftover from previous seasons and you get one random thing.  It could be a Barry Bonds commemorative pin, a Brian Wilson gnome, or a Giants sombrero.  This year I got a Jeffrey Leonard bobblehead doll.  Only, I’ve never heard of Jeffrey Leonard.  It turns out, he was the MVP of the 1987 NLCS, despite the fact that the Giants lost that series to the Cardinals (which I obviously knew because the Cardinals went on to lose the World Series to the Twins that year).  He’s the last guy to win a post-season MVP award, despite being on the losing team.  So at least I’ve learned a fun bit of trivia.

During the game, we sat in the arcade section, which was a first for me.  Those are the handful of rows high above right field, just in front of the drop off into McCovey Cove.  It’s prime homerun ball territory, and Josh Reddick got us close.  In the sixth inning, he launched a shot that seemed all but destined to splash down behind us, but instead, it hit a flag pole and bounced back towards us, making a resounding thunk on the tin roof just in front of us before bouncing back onto the field.  That put the A’s up 4-0 and they never looked back.

In about the 8th inning, the seagulls, also aware that baseball is back with it’s post-game fine dining options for our avian friends, started hovering and swarming the field.  The game ended, and as if they had been counting the outs, they took over the stadium and we went home.

Weekly baseball wrap up: A’s 6, Yankees 4

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Weekly baseball wrap up: A’s 6, Yankees 4

Okay, at the suggestion of my father (and after all, it’s Father’s Day, so I ought to listen), I’m going to attempt to blog once a week, on Sunday nights.  And this is a good week to start, since I went to a baseball game on Tuesday… and life got in the way of writing about it until now.  The New York Yankees came to the Bay Area this week, and my friend e-mailed asking if I wanted to take in a game.  As long as he wasn’t a Yankees fan, I was down.  (He’s a Dodgers fan — I never know where NL fans loyalties lie in the American League.)

A funny thing happens in Oakland when the Yankees (or Red Sox or Giants) come to play… the Coliseum gets over run with away fans.  There are a large amount of New York (and Boston) transplants in the area, and Oakland tickets are cheap.  Last season when I went to see the Red Sox on the 4th of July, the Coliseum looked a little like Christmas with all the red in the green seats.  But even when Yankees or Red Sox are in town, there is one section of the stadium that remains rabidly loyal to the A’s — a section I have previously never sat in because I wasn’t sure I had the stamina:

The Right Field Bleachers.

All of the crazy things you hear about happening at the Oakland stadium: Jeff Francoeur sending pizzas and starting a bacon tradition, the drumming, the Bernie Lean, and Balfour Ragin’ all started in the right field bleachers.  These guys take being an A’s fan seriously.  So obviously, this is where we decided to sit to avoid the incoming glut of New Yorkers.  By some miracle, we managed to finagle a pair of seats in the second row… and by the 8th inning, someone left and we jumped up to the front, where taking part in the traditional festivities, like standing during the wave so as to stop it, was a requirement, not a suggestion.

So, while a non-trivial proportion of the rest of the stadium didn’t seem to be quite so excited when Coco Crisp started off the bottom of the 1st with a solo homerun, or watching Derek Norris go deep in the 4th inning, our section was having a blast.  C.C. Sabathia, who just might hold the record for the most pinstripes of any Yankee ever, gave up 6 runs over six innings while Bartolo Colon pitched six innings of shutout ball.  The final score may seem close, but it never felt that way.

At one point, we discovered that another mutual friend of ours was at the game.  And he saw us Balfour Raging in the front row of the bleachers in the 9th inning and snapped a picture.  (With his cell phone, so you’re just going to have to believe me when I tell you that one of those blurry people in a yellow A’s jersey is me.)

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All the games I went to and didn’t blog

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I’ve been a terrible blogger.  There have been 9 games that I’ve been to since last September that I didn’t blog, not including the two in the last two days, which will get proper blog posts.  Luckily, they’re all in the score book, so I’ll just run them down here for my own record keeping, even though I’m sure you don’t care.  (“You” being… my dad?  People who haven’t migrated from Google Reader yet?)  But if you read all the way to the end, you can hear me play clarinet on KQED, in a bonus thing-I-should-have-blogged-but-didn’t.

  • September 2, 2012 – Kansas City Royals 5, Cleveland Indians 3 at Kauffman Stadium: I flew in for the weekend to visit Jenn and knock off a stadium before she tentatively left after med school.  (Now that it’s the future, it turns out she’s staying in KC for residency, but I didn’t know that then.  Regardless, visiting was good.)  Kansas City is a great baseball town — I highly recommend the Negro League Museum.  Within Kauffman Stadium, there was a nice Royals museum and video that covered the history of baseball in Kansas City from the Monarchs to the Athletics to the current team.  They didn’t mention this George Brett story, but that is what the Internet is for (NSFW).  It was free blanket night and the blanket is currently living in my closet.  Apparently Cord Phelps hit a two run homerun for Cleveland in the 5th to tie the game, but the Royals came back in the bottom of the inning to score three more runs.
  • September 18, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 5, Colorado Rockies 3 at AT&T Park: I honestly don’t remember being at this game, but it was a Tuesday night game and Michael Cuddyer was in town, so I probably popped over after work wearing my Cuddyer Twins jersey.  Except that Cuddy didn’t get any playing time, it seems.  I made a note that Angel Pagan hit his 14th triple of the season in the 8th inning, which set the SF Giants record.  George Davis had 27 in 1893 and Willie Mays has the modern day franchise record of 20, but that was all in New York
  • September 27, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 3 at AT&T Park: I don’t remember going to this game either.  The note says it was the last home game of the regular season.  It was an afternoon game, so I probably played hooky from work.  The Giants had their big inning in the 2nd, scoring 6 runs with homeruns from Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro and an RBI double from Hector Sanchez.  Even Barry Zito got in on the act with a single (and pitched 6 innings, giving up 3 earned runs with 3 Ks and 3 walks.)  There’s also a note that this is the game where a guy was trying to show off his baseball knowledge to me and tell me what a shame it was that Kirby Puckett wasn’t in the Hall of Fame.  When I corrected him on that, he then tried to save face by telling me that it was a posthumous induction.  I had to correct him again, pointing out that I was actually at the induction ceremony and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a ghost talking.  Yeah, I remember being at this game now — these are not good ways to hit on a Twins fan, gentlemen.
  • September 30, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 5, Seattle Mariners 2 at O.co Coliseum: There’s a giant mustard stain on the page for this game.  I must have eaten a hot dog.  This was in the midst of Oakland’s incredible end of the season run that eventually won them the AL West.  The game was tied at two from the 3rd inning until the bottom of the 8th when both Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick went deep for A’s, sandwiched around a Brandon Moss single.
  • October 3, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 12, Texas Rangers 5 at O.co Coliseum: I blogged this game and it was awesome.
  • October 9, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 2, Detroit Tigers 0 at O.co Coliseum (ALDS Game 3): I blogged this one too.
  • October 10, 2012 – A’s 4, Tigers 3 (ALDS Game 4): I can’t believe I didn’t blog this game — it was amazing!  (I recall racing to the airport to get to Ben and Caroline’s wedding in Philadelphia after this game.)  The A’s went down early, helped by a Prince Fielder homerun.  I remember that the energy amongst A’s fans was incredible and we were all sort of resigned that the Tigers were going to win the game (and thus the series) going into the 9th when the A’s were down 3-1.  But Oakland 9th inning heroics were the story of last season and this game was no exception.  Valverde came in to get the save, but instead started with two consecutive singles to Reddick and Donaldson, followed by a two run Seth Smith double to tie it up.  The stadium was electric!  Kottaras popped up to third and Pennington struck out and suddenly there were two outs, but it was a tie game with Coco Crisp at the plate.  On the very first pitch, he lined a single to center, which scored Smith… and I marked with four exclamation marks in the scorebook!!!!  The A’s won!!!!  Game 5 (which they would lose to Justin Verlander)!!!!
  • October 24, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 8, Detroit Tigers 3  at AT&T Park (World Series Game 1): I blogged this game, which Justin Verlander lost.
  • January 18-21, 2013 – The MIT Mystery Hunt: [The complete text of Atlas Shrugged] 1 coin, Other teams 0: This is not a baseball game, but it’s something I usually blog.  We actually won the Mystery Hunt this year.  It was long, I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, the only baseball puzzle was about the president’s race at the Nationals games, and now I’m in charge of writing next year’s hunt.  (Which I’d like to use an excuse for not blogging, but this was obviously an issue well before my free time became nothing but writing and editing puzzles.)
  • March 18, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 4, Netherlands 1 at AT&T Park (WBC semi-final): San Francisco hosted the World Baseball Classic this year… and tickets were very easy to come by off of StubHub, so I took in a game with my friend Paul.  The stadium was nearly empty and everyone booed whenever Hanley Ramirez (the hated Dodger) came to bat for DR.  Paul, a Dodger fan, loved it.
  • March 19, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 3, Puerto Rico 0 at AT&T Park (WBC final): I said WBC tickets were cheap and easy to come by?  I got this one for free!  I volunteered to help with the pre-game ceremony in exchange for a ticket.  (I’m the dot on the lower left of the Canadian flag.)  I couldn’t actually stay for the whole game, because I had a rehearsal that night,* but the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans were really into the game.  “This is the Giants-Dodgers rivalry of the Caribbean,” one Puerto Rican fan told me.  Samuel Deduno pitched a stellar game — which seemed great, given that he’s a Twins player.  But then he injured himself, so that was less great for Twins fans.
  • March 28, 2013 – Oakland Athletics 7, San Francisco Giants 3 at AT&T Park (Exhibition): A pre-season exhibition Bay Bridge series game.  The Giants gave away random grab bags of leftover giveaways from last season.  (Remember how I stood in line last season to get the Brian Wilson gnome?  Now I have two.)  It was pre-season, so there were player substitutions left and right and the scorebook is a mess, but the A’s more or less owned the Giants in this game.
  • April 12, 2013 – Detroit Tigers 7, Oakland Athletics 3 at O.co Coliseum: It was Justin Verlander day and 2012 Western Division Champion blanket giveaway day.  So obviously I went.  JV wasn’t as dominant as I’ve come to expect, but 6 innings, 1 ER, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 6 Ks is nothing to sneeze at.  Also, Prince Fielder is a monster — he hit a bomb to deep center field in the 4th that must have been long because I drew it going outside the box for his at bat.   The other half of the Tigers offensive double threat, Miguel Cabrera, went hitless on the day.  Also, it’s incredibly weird to see Torii Hunter in a Tigers uniform, but I stood up and cheered for him when he hit a solo homerun to left in the 2nd inning.
  • May 21 and 22, 2013 – Minnesota at Atlanta: I’m not horribly delinquent on these.  They’re getting their own posts (with pictures!) shortly.  But I just want to emphasize that I really, truly despise the Tomahawk Chop.  There will be more on this.

* Other thing I didn’t blog: I was in a workshop band performing selections from Beck’s Song Reader.  We were featured on KQED.  That is my clarinet solo you hear.  I’ve been asked to make an official studio recording in July.  Baseball related thing: You can hear Amal yell “Kirby Puckett!” at the beginning of Old Shanghai, letting me know that he made it to the gig  just in time.

ALDS Game 3: A’s 2, Tigers 0

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My first playoff game was last night… game 3 of the ALDS in Oakland, A’s vs Tigers.  Thanks to Bud Selig and his infinite “wisdom” (and by wisdom, I mean general idiocy), having the “home field” advantage meant that the A’s started the series with two games on the road, which they lost.  They came back to Oakland last night to take on Detroit on their terms.  Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve seen the Tigers in Oakland and actively rooted against them.  Sorry, Justin Verlander.  I still like you and all, but I want to be able to keep going to as many baseball games as possible.

The A’s came through for me and I’m going to another game tonight… which means I’ll wait to write about the series.  Just like I’ll wait to write about those four baseball games I went to and never blogged.  But in the meantime, here are pictures from last night.  I’m off to the Coliseum where baseball will be played at least one more day!

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Oakland A’s 12, Texas Rangers 5

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Holy exciting baseball!

So, lest you think I’ve been avoiding baseball all September because the Twins have been bottom dwellers, there are four September games I went to and never blogged, including my first game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.  I’ll probably bullet point summarize them tomorrow — when there’s no baseball being played anywhere.

But ignore September — it’s October baseball, baby!

At the beginning of the year, no one expected the A’s to do much of anything.  Moneyball was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but the actual Oakland A’s were predicted somewhere near the bottom of the AL West.  At the end of June, they were 13 games back of league leader Texas.  At one point, they were nine games under .500.  The pre-season predictions seemed to be holding true.

And then came the second half of the season.

Somehow, the A’s came to life in a way that no one had predicted.  (I like to think it’s because they picked up my former second-favorite Tiger, Brandon Inge.)  They crawled back into the race and passed the Anaheim Angels and suddenly found themselves in contention for one of two Wild Card spots.  After Sunday (coming soon: my summary of Sunday’s game), the A’s opened a series with the Texas Rangers, only one game back for the division lead and three games up in the Wild Card race.  One win this week and they clinch a playoff spot.  A sweep and they win the division title.

Obviously, you know because I’m writing this (and because you pay any attention to baseball at all), they swept.  And I took the afternoon off to join the sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum (still a dumb name).  To save you from having to read my summary of the game (Sitting next to a drunk ADHD guy! Having drunk ADHD guy leave and be replaced with a more sane guy! Coming back from a 5-1 deficit! Coco Crisp’s double! Josh Hamilton’s error! Ryan Cook’s strikeouts! Derek Norris’s homerun! Bernie leans! Balfour raging! High fiving lots of random strangers!), here’s the video I took from section 114 of the final out of the game.  Apologies for the shaky cam effect — the adrenaline rush of the moment made it impossible to keep a steady hand, especially when I zoomed in.  [YouTube’s video stabilization feature is amazing!] At some point, I might post highlights of all the pictures too.

Of course, baseball is still just a game.  And even this joyous celebration was dampened this evening.  On Monday when the A’s clinched a playoff spot, Pat Neshek — a fellow Minnesotan, former Twin, and current A’s pitcher — had to quickly fly out of town to join his wife who had gone into labor.  A few hours after the A’s won the division, Gehrig John Neshek, all of 23 hours old, died suddenly.  Neshek was always one of those baseball players who seemed more a fan than a celebrity — he used to keep a blog about all the baseball cards he collected.  Hearing about his loss is just shocking and heartbreaking and makes celebrating a division title seem kind of silly.