This was a game that had a lot of weird and wacky involved, from A’s starting pitcher Scott Kazmir being ejected in the second inning to a squirrel running around the playing field in the fourth and a blown home run call in the seventh that brought back not-so-pleasant memories of Angel Hernandez.
The final score doesn’t seem surprising at all; the A’s beat a floundering Indians team 6-2 for their eighth victory in their last nine games, but it was the way they won that stood out.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second on a wild pitch by Kazmir to Jesus Aguilar. Then, Kazmir walked Aguilar on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be a strike, except home plate umpire Jerry Layne didn’t see it that way. Kazmir started yelling at Layne, who threw Kazmir out, prompting a lengthy argument from manager Bob Melvin.
Keep in mind that Kazmir was ejected in the second inning, meaning the A’s bullpen would have to be heavily taxed the rest of the way. But in typical A’s fashion, they somehow pulled it out. Dan Otero was magical, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Kazmir. He did allow four hits, but induced three inning-ending double plays.
The A’s offense let Kazmir off the hook as well. Brandon Moss’ monster two-run homer in the third put the A’s ahead 3-1 after a Josh Donaldson single had tied the game. In the seventh, Donaldson appeared to give the A’s a 6-2 lead by hitting a three-run homer over the left field wall. However, it was ruled a triple on the field and the call stood after replay, despite the fact that the ball clearly landed beyond the yellow line. Moss made everyone forget about it, though, as he laced a double down the left field line to score Donaldson.
The offense may have shown up, but the bullpen won this game for the A’s. The combination of Otero, Fernando Abad, Luke Gregerson, and Sean Doolittle allowed just one run over the last 7.2 innings, showing why the A’s have the lowest bullpen ERA in the AL at 3.02.
— Angel Hernandez wasn’t umpiring this game, but he must have been here in spirit. Almost a year ago, Adam Rosales appeared to hit a game-tying home run for the A’s in the ninth inning, but Hernandez’s crew called it a double. It went to review, where replays clearly showed the ball landed above the yellow line in center, but incredulously, the call stood and the A’s wound up losing 4-3. That situation was mirrored today, although it was a far less important situation and the A’s won anyway. But still, any memory of Angel Hernandez is a bad memory.
— That blown home run call also cost Donaldson the honor of hitting a home run in three straight games. He has 10 big flies on the season.
— Kazmir, after being ejected and letting out some frustration on the way to the clubhouse: “I want to go apologize to the trash can. It did nothing wrong.”
— Kazmir also said he’d be willing to pitch on Sunday if needed. He only threw 32 pitches in 1.1 innings.
— From the perspective of an Indians fan, the most exciting thing in this game may have been the squirrel that ran out the field for over three minutes in the middle of the fourth inning while John Jaso was batting. Somehow, the squirrel ran out to center field, stared down Ryan Raburn, then preceded to run around the outfield looking for an escape route. It couldn’t, so it ran toward the infield and tried to climb over the tarp and into the stands. “Tried” is the key word here, as it jumped up three times and failed miserably. Finally, it found a hole next to the tarp and ran into the seats, much to the excitement of the crowd.
Never before have I started an article about a baseball game and ended it talking about a squirrel.