So there I was last night, the ultimate baseball nerd watching on four games on the freaking magnificent MLB.TV package (yes Dinn Mann, that is indeed a testimonial).
I was watching the Rangers hold off the Astros, the Jays top the Rays, but my primary focus was on two games: one that ended in heartbreak, one that ended in jubilation.
Baseball is such a cruel game
You can hit a ball on the screws and watch a screeching liner go right into the mitt of a shortstop, or you can get a piece of a pitch like Ryan Zimmerman did with two outs in the 9th inning last night and bounce it just over a 6’6″ pitcher’s head and as it dribbles toward the shortstop, in this case, the charging Pete Kozma, you can watch as he grabbed it with his bare hand and make an off-balance throw to first that was a little wide, pulling first baseman Matt Adams off the bag and as Zimmerman reached first, you can watch Michael Wacha lose a no-hitter as the Cards topped the Nats, 2-0.
Baseball is a game of uncontrolled exuberant joy
These days I’m Cleveland Indians game watching or scoreboard watching. They they were in the top of the 9th inning leading the Paler-by-the-game Hose, 3-2. And then, closer Chris Perez gave up a homer to Dayan Viciedo, to tie the score and two strike outs later, a Alejandro De Aza homer gave the White Sox at 4-3 lead.
With all of the pain the White Sox have been through this season, you certainly can’t blame closer Addison Reed for much of it. After he recorded the first out of the 9th via a whiff, Michael Brantley hit a ground ball off the glove of second baseman Gordon Beckham, who reached for it like a bullfighter flaunting his cape. Mike Aviles then gave Reed his second strikeout of the inning.
On the second pitch, Brantley stole second uncontested, almost as if it were defensive indifference except Brantley represented the tying run. So in a brief period of time I saw two strikes against the White Sox this season: fielding that was questionable and baseball tactics that were as well. I then saw the third as the 42-year old Giambi lifted an enormous drive toward right field. The only question was whether this shot would reach the second deck.
Giambi trotted around the bases with his second pinch-hit walkoff homer of the season and the 10th of his career.
He is the oldest player to hit a walkoff homer, breaking his own record which he set on July 29 when he broke the mark previously held by Hank Aaron.
Nine different Indians have contributed to their 11 walkoff wins this season.