Monday, September 22, 2014

Game of the Day (9/21/14)

A's 8, Phillies 6 (10). Philly's AJ Burnett took on Oakland's Scott Kazmir. Three or four years ago, I would not have guessed that either of them would be putting in full seasons in MLB rotations this year - yet here we are.

The scoring got off to a quick start. Chase Utley singled with two outs in the top of the first, Ryan Howard walked, and Marlon Byrd doubled Utley home. Oakland responded immediately; Coco Crisp led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, Josh Donaldson singled him to third, and Adam Dunn singled as well to tie the game. Brandon Moss then doubled to bring Donaldson home, Jed Lowrie was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Josh Reddick's sacrifice fly plated Dunn for a 3-1 lead.

Cody Asche's single in the second made him the only runner to reach in the inning. The same could not be said of the third, in which Utley singled and Howard and Byrd both doubled, with the second double driving in the other two runners and tying the game at 3. Oakland replied promptly again with the stereotypical A's rally: Donaldson walked, Dunn was hit by a pitch, and Lowrie and Geovany Soto walked as well to force in the go-ahead run. The Phils rallied once more in the fourth, as Ben Revere singled and Carlos Ruiz doubled to even the score at 4.

Burnett was perfect in the fourth, and Kazmir matched him in the fifth. Then the scoring started again. Burnett walked Moss and Nick Punto and was pulled with one out in the fifth; Cesar Jimenez relieved him and allowed a two-run double to Soto. In the top of the sixth, Kazmir gave up a one-out single to Asche, a triple to Freddy Galvis, and a game-tying single to Revere. Dan Otero replaced him and recorded the remaining two outs without incident. Jimenez combined with Luis Garcia on a scoreless bottom of the sixth, despite a Donaldson single and a wild pitch. Howard greeted Fernando Abad with a single in the seventh, but Byrd hit into a force and then was caught stealing. Garcia issued a walk to Soto in the home seventh but allowed nothing else.

The bullpens continued in much the same fashion from there. In the top of the eighth, Darin Ruf hit a leadoff double against Luke Gregerson and made it to third before being stranded. Jake Diekman gave up a Nate Freiman pinch single in the home eighth, but left him on. Sean Doolittle retired the Phils in order in the top of the ninth, and the A's threatened against Justin De Fratus in the bottom of the inning by way of a one-out Punto triple. Sam Fuld was intentionally walked and stole second, but Soto struck out, as did Eric Sogard, sending the game to extras. Doolittle was perfect again in the tenth, and the A's ended it in the bottom of the inning against Miguel Gonzalez when Freiman singled and Donaldson homered.

The Phillies led once, briefly; they then came from behind to tie three times. All the back-and-forth makes this quite a good game, even if the late innings were drama-light outside of the bottoms of the ninth and tenth. And it worked out nicely for both teams, as the A's won and maintained their tenuous grasp on the playoffs for another day, while the Phillies lost, improving their draft position for next year, but did so in an exciting way, moving them back into a fairly close second in the 2014 excitement standings.

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