Oakland Athletics Roundup: Thursday, October 15
Yesterday’s playoff battles left the American League West in the cold, as both the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers joined the Oakland Athletics in an early off-season.
Surprisingly, it was Dallas Keuchel who sealed the fate of the ‘Stros, as he gave up a three-run blast to Kendrys Morales to put the Kansas City Royals up 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Houston’s offense just couldn’t overcome the deficit against KC closer Wade Davis. The Athletics certainly can relate to the pain of defeat at the hands of the AL Central, having experienced it so many years in a row.
But it was the Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays who had the most exciting game. Things got weird in the top of the seventh inning, when the Rangers took a 3-2 lead on a freak play. As Rougned Odor waited at third base, Jays’ catcher Russell Martin started to throw the ball back to the pitcher, but it glanced off of the outstretched bat of Shin-Soo Choo. The major league rulebook says that the ball is in play as long as the batter is in the box and there is no intent to disrupt the throw, so a quick-thinking Odor scored as the ball bounced away, towards third base.
A lengthy delay followed, as fans threw trash on the field, players milled around, and both managers argued their cases. Jays’ skipper John Gibbons made the point that because home plate umpire Dale Scott had called time before realizing the ball was live, it affected the outcome of the play. When the run wasn’t reversed, Toronto declared that they would play the game under protest. But it proved to be a moot point. In the bottom half of the inning, things got even weirder.
To get things started, Russell Martin hit a soft grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who promptly booted the ball and was charged with an error. Then, outfielder Kevin Pillar reached when Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland bounced a throw to Andrus covering second. What happened next was so unlikely that even the Blue Jays’ players had to feel sympathetic. Ryan Goins bunted a ball up the third base line, and Adrian Beltre fielded it and tossed the ball to third, – where Andrus somehow dropped it, committing his second error of the inning, and the Rangers’ third error in a row. The normally sure-handed Andrus was devastated after the game, declaring it the toughest moment of his career.
With one out, Cole Hammels was pulled as reliever Sam Dyson took the mound. Josh Donaldson took a big swing and hit a pop fly to second base, where Rougned Odor failed to make the catch. Pillar scored on the play, tying the game, but Ben Revere was thrown out on the force play at second. Then, Jose Bautista stepped to the plate, and hit one of the most majestic go-ahead home runs in playoff history. Accompanying it? The greatest bat flip of all time. Watch the videos below. It’s beautiful.
When Edwin Encarnacion tried to calm the crowd, who for some reason reacted to the home run by again throwing trash on the field (nice going, Toronto,,,,), Dyson took exception and the teams rushed the field to break it up. After giving up a pair of hits, Dyson finally got Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to end the inning. For some reason, Dyson thought the appropriate response to this would be to give Tulo a slap on the butt as he walked by the Jays slugger – a sentiment Tulo did not share, which lead to yet another bench-clearing meeting on the field. Despite all of the crazy moments and delays of game, ultimately, the Rangers walked away losers as Toronto advanced to the ALCS – despite their 0-2 start to the five game series.
There will be plenty of hot takes on Bautista’s bat flip, but here’s another: if you hit the game-winning home run in a win-or-go-home playoff game, you’d be pretty excited, too. Let the guy have his fun. Now, Kendrys Morales skipping to first base after simply adding on to the Royals’ eighth inning lead (off of a guy pitching in relief for the first time in his career, on two days rest)? That’s a different story.
In Case You Missed It:
Who do the A’s Need to Get Rid of this Season? – In this week’s edition of our Swingin’ A’s roundtable, we debate which one position player most needs to go before the start of 2016. Be sure to check it out and let us know who’s right!
Should the A’s Pursue Aroldis Chapman? – The A’s bullpen is desperately in need of a remodel. Samantha Riley has an idea about how to fix the team’s issues, and his name is Aroldis Chapman. Could it happen?
Choosing From the A’s Middle Infield Options – There’s a fairly reasonable chance that Danny Valencia could see his time in Oakland come to an end the way it has everywhere else: with a solid performance being overlooked in favor of “clubhouse chemistry”. If it happens, should the A’s stick with what they have, or try to capture a veteran – say, Mike Aviles?
Around the Web:
Athletics Nation: Indulge in the Former Athletics Postseason Fantasy – Athletics Nation takes a look at the salaries and WAR of all of the former A’s in the postseason – and there are definitely more than a couple of them.