Today’s A’s/Angels weekend series finale was needlessly cruel, to put it nicely; it was the baseball version of receiving a kick to the nuggets from an NFL Pro Bowl kicker while he’s wearing some steel-toe boots, to put it bluntly. It’s bad enough that the A’s got yet another win at the Big A, but for that win to come via stunning comeback is another level of suck.
Oh, and what if I were to tell you that this game would not only leave you dry-heaving, but it’d also leave you seeing images of the grotesque and gruesome Halos follies in your head for the rest of your Sunday? OK, now what if I were to tell you that you’d have to endure that shit longer than any other non-extras game EVER at the Big A? Would that be something you’d be interested in?
This Buttercup was 4 hours and 12 minutes long, which is good enough for longest 9-inning game for the Halos at Angels Stadium; it would also tie the record for longest 9-inning game in team history, too (Angels @ Yankees 8/25/1998). That’s cool and all, and this game WILL be memorable...except I will always think of it in a “I saw their longest home game on TV, it was a depressing loss to the A’s” sort of way.
The pessimistic Angels fan in me is shouting “OF COURSE THE LONGEST 9-INNING GAME WAS A STEAMING, STINKING BUTTERCUP!!! BECAUSE THIS IS THE ANGELS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!!!”, followed by a long, foreboding cackle that has been echoing around in my mind ever since Oakland got that last pop-up to end the game. The optimist Halos fan in me is...oh, I guess he’s not here right now. Must be taking a nap or something.
So what went wrong in this record-breaking embarrassment? Ricky Nolasco went 4.0 innings, and from that piece of information alone, you can probably make an educated guess as to how he performed. Are you picturing a three-run homer, along with an RBI double, all occurring in one inning...say, the fourth? If so, great job. That’s exactly what happened in his 4.0 IP/ 9 H/ 5 R/ 5 ER/ 3 BB/ 5 K day on the mound.
The Angels were not cowering in the corner while Nolasco was getting burned, though. They were mashing, showing power in the form of Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout homers, Juan Graterol had a couple RBIs, and C.J. Cron, Cliff Pennington and Kole Calhoun were also pitching in with some solid knocks, some iffy knocks and some lucky break/bad defense knocks.
Whatever works; all that matters is that, heading into the eighth inning, the Angels were weathering the storm. They were being dealt a sadly typical Nolasco outing, but unlike every other start he’s had this year, they actually got 6+ runs to back him up (even sadder, it was only the third time he’d have 3+ in run support this season). Want to know what’s funny, though? IT DIDN’T MATTER, LOLOLOL!
In the eighth, we saw two guys that have been pretty damn dependable in 2017; Blake Parker is an oak in his unwavering toughness, and Bud Norris has been a great anchor for this badass bullpen. Today, however, they were here in body but their spirits were elsewhere. Parker would pitch 0.2 innings, and give up three hits, three runs (all earned) in that span, including a dinger he allowed. Norris had a similarly crappy line, going 0.1 IP/ 3 H/ 2 R/ 2 ER, so you can get a really disgusting taste of how that eighth inning went down.
When all was said and done, the Athletics sent nine guys to the plate in that eighth, and they ended up dropping five runs on the Halos. They came from some slugging power, and they came off of bonehead-ness on the Angels’ part. There were bombs and bad pitching galore, and the home team, who had a 10-6 lead going in, soon found themselves looking at a 10-11 reversal of fortune. Lots of two out hits and walks will kill you every time, just as they’ve killed the Angels many times in the past few months.
The Athletics are the Athletics, though. That’s important to remember. So you just knew they’d give the Halos another shot, perhaps more than one shot, to get back in the game and get back on top. That chance did indeed come, too, with the Halos eventually having bases loaded, two down, and it was Luis Valbuena who swung and whiffed for a K, and that was the end of hope as we knew it.
The joke of it all was that the Athletics’ reliever at that time, Santiago Casilla, hadn’t thrown any strikes for the majority of his appearance, and yet Valbuena had to go flailing around and kill any chance of a rally. That was merely one joke in a game that was filled to the brim with jokes, all thanks to our beloved Halos, who lost this joke of a game 11-10.
4 hours and 12 minutes. That’s quite the long, long ride, all to get to a messy, dead end bummer. Once again, the pessimist Halos fan in me is cackling.