I woke up from an afternoon nap today full of idealism for a win, against odds I knew were not really in our favor. Doug Fister vs Brett Anderson is perhaps not the most hopeful matchup in the world, but we have 9 more home games after this one, and something had to turn around soon, right? Even Dave Niehaus and MIke Blowers were preaching faith in things shifting for us soon during the pre-game show, and if Dave says things are start coming up roses, who am I to argue? He’s a Hall of Famer, after all.
Fister managed to keep the A’s at bay through 8 whopping innings. He gave up three hits, but no runs. We mounted an attack in the 4th inning with a Jose Lopez single and Milton Bradley double, and with two out, Rob Johnson volleyed with Anderson to a full count and two pitches beyond before he struck out swinging. Our defense continued to back Fister up in the top of the 5th, keeping runners stranded and making sure they were thrown out. We made another shot at offense in the bottom of the 5th, but Jose Lopez left men on, Anderson’s 6th strike out for the night.
Fister took out his A’s in order in the 6th inning, and in our half, we attempted another attack with some somewhat aggressive baserunning, and by taking advantage of errant pitches – but that would all end in nought, as well, as Jack Wilson grounded into a force out to finish it. Fister was still in the game in the 7th inning, plowing through Oakland’s lineup as they reported for duty.
Reliever Craig Breslow came into the bottom of the 7th for Anderson, and Chone Figgins took a double out of him to the left field corner with one Ichiro having already struck out swinging. With Franklin Gutierrez up to the plate, Brad Ziegler was brought in to try and fend us off. On a wild pitch, Figgins took off for third, and catcher Kurt Suzuki gunned him out there, killing our momentum. Gutz grounded out to second to end it.
Fister came back in for his final inning in the 8th; I’m pretty sure this is the longest game he’s played, and it was absolutely beautiful. He ran through the A’s again, getting Rajai Davis to pop up to second for the final out in the inning. We needed runs, and we needed them badly. Jose Lopez took a single from Ziegler to start things off. Mike Sweeney exhibited some plate patience that he hadn’t previously (some folks on Twitter were quick to point out that there are in fact three strikes allowed per at-bat, sarcasm fully intended) to grab a walk and bring Bradley up. Eric Byrnes was sent in to pinch run, and if there’s anyone on our team who can run, it’s Eric Byrnes. It was then that Bradley did what we have been waiting for him to do, and took Ziegler yard over the right field wall, sending everyone home! As the broadcast showed Fister in the dugout, it was obvious he was trying to contain his glee a little, but it was still very visible on his face because of course, he knew he had just won the game.
Chad Gaudin, Utility Infielder, came in to replace Ziegler with two outs and dealt to Rob Johnson and then Jack Wilson, who were called out on strikes and struck out swinging, respectively, and then it was David Aardsma’s turn to take on the A’s and finish everything up. Aardsma walked Daric Barton, and I’m not going to lie about this, I was concerned that Bad Aardsma might be showing up to play. But he proved me wrong (thank you ever so much for that) and managed to get Ryan Sweeney to ground into a double play, walked Kevin Kouzmanoff, then made Kurt Suzuki pop out to Casey Kotchman at first in slightly foul territory.
Why couldn’t this have happened last night?
This was a gorgeous game. A pitcher’s duel for sure, but watching Fister throw tonight was a sight to behold. Jen Mueller of FSN interviewed Bradley immediately after the game, and acknowledged that we’d all like to see him hit more like tonight. He looked a little serious at first, but as Mueller wrapped up the interview, Bradley absolutely beamed at the camera. I love it!
Tomorrow, we get Jason Vargas going up against Gio Gonzalez (I’m actually really looking forward to seeing Vargas in person, after some of his spring starts), and Conor and Jessica and I will be in our left field bleacher seats, enjoying some Thai Ginger. Or perhaps more gyros. And Mariners baseball!