As I was getting ready to leave my house to go to yesterday’s A’s game, I thought it would be funny to dub the day ‘Wacky Wednesday’ in honor of the rousing success of Bacon Tuesday, and for the fact that just when you think you’ve seen it all in baseball, something weird, and maybe wonderful, will inexplicably happen. Sure enough, as those of us in the right field bleachers were still trying to comprehend the madness of the media blitz over the previous night’s festivities, the A’s captured an unlikely 5-4 victory over the Royals.
In what has to be one of the strangest and perhaps even anti-climatic ways to end a baseball game, Royals closer Johnathan Broxton plunked Jonny Gomes on the first pitch he threw to him with the bases loaded in the 12th inning to force Jemile Weeks home for the winning run. Unbelievably, the previous batter, Yoenis Cespedes, was also hit by pitch to load the bases. However, that wasn’t the only craziness that took place yesterday.
After enjoying our night of artery-clogging treats and enduring Chapters 7 through 11 of the Book of Genesis, the crew had to make it to the stadium for a noon game yesterday, which means I have to think about getting ready to leave even before I go to sleep the night before since I live in the deep East Bay. I usually show up a few minutes late for noon games, but this time I actually managed to slide into my seat about 10 minutes before first pitch and for good reason. After giving Jeff Francoeur his t-shirt and box of bacon treats the night before, he told us he had a surprise for us at the game the next day.
Sure enough, just as the first inning was getting underway, a visiting clubhouse attendant popped into the bleachers and told us he had something for us. He reaches into a thermal delivery bag and starts pulling out a bunch of those personal Round Table Pizza pizzas they sell at the games, informing us that Jeff sent up 20. As we passed the boxes around, he also pulls out the autographed bat shown above.
We always knew that Frenchy was a class act ever since the first time he came into Oakland and responded to our pointed verbal jabs with a lighthearted and playful demeanor that we immediately came to respect and enjoy.
Those of us in the bleachers take a great deal of pride in doing whatever we can to disrupt the psyche of the opposing right fielder (and other players) without being profane, vulgar, or most importantly, unoriginal or unfunny. Most players just ignore us, while a few others will respond by flipping us off or cursing at us (ask any one of us about Jose Guillen or Jose Bautista sometime). So when a player like Jeff Francoeur comes along, we can’t help but be appreciative that this guy gets “it” unlike so many other athletes of our day.
Throughout the whole game, we chanted Jeff Francoeur by altering chants normally reserved for the A’s, and we cheered him when he came up to at-bat while simultaneously hoping he would harmlessly ground out. As usual, Jeff interacted with us the whole game.
Speaking of the actual game itself, at times it took a backseat to everything else going on. Not that we weren’t pay attention, but Bacon Tuesday really blew up well beyond any of us could’ve imagined. Halfway through the game, Ross read us a story about us that was posted on the Washington Post website. Throughout the course of the day, before and after the game, I kept coming across article after article that raved about Bacon Tuesday and Jeff Francoeur. I could list some here, but I’m lazy, so you can just go to Google and type in ‘Jeff Francoeur bacon.’ There’s also a few links at the bottom of this entry.
Without even tying, we made a national story just by heckling a baseball player, talking about bacon, and then sharing and eating bacon with him. But even with the media blitz, we kept our focus on the field.
The A’s offense was largely dormant once again, as they managed only six hits on the day. In fact, the A’s scored both of their runs in the bottom of the 12th without getting a hit, using two walks, a sacrifice hit, and the two HBPs to win it.
It was the first time in 46 years that a game ended with two straight batters being hit with pitches. Hell, having one batter get hit to end a game doesn’t happen that often either, having happened just 56 times since 1948. Only once did two batters get hit consecutively to end the game. That’s not even the craziest part. That distinction belongs to the fact that Jonny Gomes won a game with the Washington Nationals last August by getting hit by a Brad Lidge pitch with the bases full to end it. I guess Gomes knew exactly what to do in that situation yesterday.
When I saw that it was Broxton coming in to pitch, I told everybody in the bleachers, “He’s got a great arm, but he chokes.” That was always his problem with the Dodgers, and it looks like he’s going to continue to struggle in pressure-packed situations. The Royals may want to consider moving him to middle relief to ease the intensity, and taking a look at Tim Collins as their closer.
Coco Crisp’s RBI groundout earlier in the 12th tied it at 4 after Billy Butler doubled home the go-ahead run in top half of the inning against Andrew Carignan.
Gomes did more than just take a fastball to the rib cage yesterday. With the A’s down 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Gomes hit a two-run homer to put them ahead 3-2. The A’s would hold that lead until the seventh when Alex Gordon hit a solo shot off Brian Fuentes to tie it up.
Brandon McCarthy looked much better than his last time out, giving up six hits, two runs, and two walks over six innings of work. He also struck out four.
Also of note was Cespedes hitting his first career single in the 11th after his previous five hits went for extra bases.
Josh Reddick, who was hit in the neck and jaw by a Jose Mijares breaking ball in the eighth inning, is expected to play Friday. Reddick was on the ground for several minutes after being hit, and was replaced by Coco Crisp.
Cliff Pennington left after fouling a ball off his left kneecap in the fifth and was replaced by Eric Sogard. He should also be ready to go tomorrow.
With the victory, the A’s move to 3-4 on the season and are set to embark on their first real road trip of the season, a seven game jaunt that takes them to Seattle and Anaheim. They’re scheduled to face Felix Hernandez on Friday, already the third time they’ve faced the Mariners ace this young season. On the plus side, they actually fared pretty well against him last time out, tagging him for six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Let’s hope that continues tomorrow night.
On the hill for the A’s will be Bartolo Colon, who will be looking to improve upon his last outing in which he gave up seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mariners.
- Morning Mail: Royals’ Jeff Francoeur has free pizzas delivered to A’s fans in bleachers (video) (offthebench.nbcsports.com)
- Jonathan Broxton Hits 2 Batters to End Game for 1st Time in 46 Years (VIDEO) (blippitt.com)
- Outfield assist of another kind (hardballtimes.com)