I can already tell you I’m not going to like Chris Ray. That guy has a funky delivery, so herky jerky and awkward. It looks like he has absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go after it leaves his hand! Which would be fine if he threw 99 miles per hour with movement; but his goes 92 or 93. I mean, he JUST got pounded and everything was smack dab in the middle of the strike zone. YOU DON’T HAVE THE KIND OF STUFF TO BLOW GUYS AWAY, CHRIS RAY! Paint the fucking corners or get the hell out of my way!
So, that happened. Vargas had a very Vargas-like performance, and we took a 2-1 lead into the 8th where it was subsequently blown. Yes, it is Game 2 and we have our first blown save of the year!
By the by, here’s a little tip: Jamey Wright and Chris Ray, they have almost identical stuff. League-average (read: hitable) fastball, curveballs that don’t do a whole lot of curving, both are right handed and white, etc. MAYBE it’s best not to pitch them back-to-back. MAYBE, when we throw one, we put in a guy who actually throws hard the next inning!
I’m harping on this early and often because I want to nip this Chris Ray in the bud. He won’t be ruining this month for me! God I want Aardsma back in the worst way (never thought I’d see myself writing that).
Anyway, where was I? YES, the Epic Ninth. Bottom of the 8th, we’re Ray’d right in the nuts, but luckily he somehow held the damage down to a single run. We still had the tie, but it had the FEEL of 2010, much like the first game.
You know, we have excellent starting pitching, but we run into the buzzsaw that is Brett Anderson (he had an ERA of 0.81 against us last season in five games). Somehow we get a run off of him and make him leave after only 6 innings, then we work another run across the plate to get a miniscule lead. Starting pitcher has to leave, our bullpen gives up the tying run, and then we go on to lose it in the bottom of the 9th or in extra innings.
Well, NOT THIS TIME!
This time, we did it. I don’t know how, but I’ll be God damned if we didn’t somehow do it. It looked like this:
Jack Wilson jerks a single into left field to start things off. Michael Saunders lays down an excellent sacrifice bunt to move him to 2nd base. Miguel Olivo then hits a single to deep center that Wilson has to wait on to make sure it’s not caught, so he only advances to 3rd. This gives us runners on the corners with only 1 out. Haven’t we seen this situation a million times before, last season? All we need is a fly ball or heavens forbid an actual hit, but instead we strike out, or hit a come-backer to the pitcher, or when we have the winning run go on contact, that very contact is a hard ground ball to the 3rd baseman (a.k.a. the ONE person we can’t hit the ball to in that situation).
Well, luckily for us, we had Ichiro at the plate. He hit a sharp grounder to first base who had to go home with the throw. Except these are the A’s, so their defense is horrible. I don’t think they would’ve gotten Jack Wilson anyway, as he WAS going on contact, but there we go! Infield single, and a 3-2 lead.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Because in all the chaos of that play, Olivo made it all the way to 3rd base. On the next throw from pitcher Brian Fuentes, he scored on a wild pitch. THEN, Ichiro stole 3rd base, all while Chone Figgins is at the plate! Figgy hits a sacrifice fly to deep center and that’s your ballgame. A tie game goes to a 3-run lead and the first of hopefully many Brandon League saves.
HE looked on tonight, by the way. Good, very good. Let’s keep THAT up.