by Ken Arneson
2020-08-16 23:30

The baseball gods tried their best to make me miss yet another ballgame. But little did they know that yesterday I decided to change religions, so I thwarted their thwarts.

I was awakened this morning around 4am to a thunderstorm. I was completely unaware beforehand that a thunderstorm might be coming, so I had a whole bunch of windows open to thwart the heat, which had reached almost 100F the previous day, and was projected to get over 90F again. So as the rain came down, I had to get out of bed to close those windows to keep things from getting wet.

That thunderstorm kept me awake for a couple of hours until it passed, and then I went back to bed. I woke back up around 10:30am, which is probably the latest I’ve awakened in years. Game time was 1pm for the A’s-Giants game was 1pm, so I checked the weather forecast to see if there were any more surprised in store. The report did not give any indication that the game would be in any danger of not being played.

And then just around noon, seemingly out of nowhere, there came a thunderclap that was as loud as any natural sound I had ever heard.

If the lightning bolt had hit my house, I would not have been surprised. It’s been that kind of year. But it did not. Instead, the lightning hit a nearby power station, and blew out three transformers. Power to a large chunk of Alameda was immediately cut.

But for once, my house was spared the power outage. So let the game commence!

The game started out like a lot of A’s games this season: the A’s kind of plodding along against the opposing starter, and the A’s starter (Mike Fiers this time) kind of plodding along, too, keeping the game close until the bullpens come into play.

The score was 2-2 when Giants starter Logan Webb ran out of gas, and was replaced by left-handed reliever Wandy Peralta. And as we’ve seen before this season, this was another example of the three-batter minimum playing to the A’s advantage. Giants manager Gabe Kapler saw Matt Olson sitting as the third batter that the reliever would have to face, and if he wanted a lefty to face Olson, he would also have to face the two batters before him. This allowed the A’s to pinch hit right-handed batter Chad Pinder for left-handed batter Tony Kemp. Pinder has some of the biggest platoon splits on the A’s, he’s never hit righties well at all, but he’s pretty good against lefties.

And that’s when the metaphorical thunder started.

Pinder crushed Peralta’s first pitch, a 94.7mph fastball right down the middle, sending it the other way at 112.1mph and 422 feet away into the left-field bleachers. That gave the A’s a 4-2 lead.

Peralta ended up failing to retire a single batter. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson singled (Olson’s being a perfectly laid bunt against a shift), Mark Canha tripled to drive them in, making it 6-2. When Robbie Grossman followed with a walk, Kapler replaced Peralta with Dereck Rodriguez.

On the sixth pitch to Piscotty, Rodriguez hung a curveball to Piscotty. Piscotty obliterated the pitch, sending it 32 feet farther than Pinder’s blast, landing at the top of the bleachers and then rolling under the giant baseball glove behind the bleachers.

A few batters later, when Marcus Semien also homered on a hanging curve from Rodriguez (this one traveling a meager 379 feet), the A’s had scored nine runs in the inning.

The rest of the game was just a mere formality, save for the major league debut of A’s pitcher James Kaprelian, who pitched a solid two innings, giving up one run. Final score: A’s 15, Giants 3.

The A’s have the best record in baseball now at 16-6, which is fun. The complete dominance in this game aside, I don’t know that the A’s are quite as good as their record. But they are good.

You can see from all the mistakes the Giants made in this series that their team is full of holes, and the A’s team isn’t. The A’s are solid everywhere, and so while they can be beaten by other teams when they play well, if the other team does not play well, the A’s will often at a minimum just grind through and outlast the opponent, and if the other team plays flat out poorly, like today, the A’s have enough lightning on their roster to strike them down and blow them out.

This is Ken Arneson's blog about baseball, brains, art, science, technology, philosophy, poetry, politics and whatever else Ken Arneson feels like writing about
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