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Friday, May 28, 2010

Game 48 Recap or Thank You, Orioles!

Oakland 7, Baltimore 5 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)

A's Current Record: 25-23
Last night I was at a dinner party and basically made everyone watch this game with me.  None of the other guests were A's fans, or Orioles fans, so I felt a little bad about it.  When the O's went up 5-2 in the seventh inning we were oh so close to turning to the Lakers-Suns game.  Thank goodness (for me at least) that we didn't, because I would have missed the A's most improbable wins of the season.  According to Fangraphs, going into the top of the eighth, the A's had just an 8% chance of winning the game.  At the time, I would have put the A's chances at under 5%.

A couple of my buddies told me not to worry because the Orioles bullpen would likely blow the game, but I was pretty sure that the A's offensive ineptitude would rule the day.  It came down to a battle between a very movable force (the O's pen) and an easily stoppable object (the A's hitters).  Mark down a win for the easily stoppable object with a big assist from Fortuna.

The A's opened the inning facing Orioles starter Brad Bergesen who had pretty much dominated the A's in the first seven innings.  The main blemish on his record was a two run homer allowed to Gabe Gross in the first.  He entered the seventh having given up only two hits and three walks and had thrown only 80 pitches.  He gave up a very soft grounder to Adam Rosales that couldn't have been more carefully placed in the 5.5 hole.  Mark Ellis then lined a legitimately hard hit single to center, driving Bergesen from the game.  Rajai Davis and Daric Barton made outs, but then the fun began.

Mark Hendrickson, who came on to retire Barton, got ahead of Ryan Sweeney 1-2 before leaving a pitch up in the zone that Sweeney dunked into left.  This brought in Rosales from second and brought up Kurt Suzuki with two on and two out.  Why Dave Trembley didn't go to Cla Meredith at this point, I have no idea.  Zook reached on an infield single, knocking a grounder off of Hendrickson's foot that dribbled between first and second.  Jake Fox then hit an easy groundball to Cesar Izturis and it looked like the Orioles would get out of the inning.  The ball took a crazy hop, though, as the last hop bounced twice as high as the one right before it.  Izturis couldn't handle the bounce, allowing Fox to reach on another infield single.  Trembley finally went to Meredith, who promptly gave up a bases clearing double to Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Over the course of a season you're going to get some lucky wins (and losses).  This will almost certainly rank as one of the luckiest wins of the season.  In the deciding eighth inning, the A's hit only two balls well, yet managed six hits and five runs.  This lucky inning was helped along by odd managerial choices by the Orioles and allowed them to overcome a just-average start from Gio Gonzalez and a meltdown from Tyson Ross.

The A's took two of three from the Orioles, a team they needed to take advantage of.  The A's face a much bigger test, taking on the Tigers and the Red Sox before heading back to the Coliseum.  We'll see if the A's can tread water on the road against these tough opponents.

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