Whew… this sure turned out to be an interesting week filled with some tremendously entertaining matchup. On Monday, the Phillies came back from an 11-7 deficit in the eighth inning to win 13-11 against the Nationals. Tuesday saw the White Sox and Mariners engage in a solid doubleheader, the first game of which took all of 17 minutes to play and the second of which saw firsthand the dominance of Felix Hernandez. On Wednesday, Yovani Gallardo beat the Padres… literally… as he pitched eight shutout innings of two-hit ball while accounting for the lone run of the game with a solo home run.
Fast forward to Sunday and several more games staked claim as potential winners for this week’s honor. Scott Baker took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Royals before getting rocked; the Twins would lose 7-5. Barry Zito looked vintage, recording a no-decision while holding the Rockies scoreless over seven innings. The winner, however, is the Athletics-Mariners matchup yesterday in which the Ms walked off on a single in the bottom of the fifteenth frame.
Chris Jakubauskas, coming off of a two-hit loss in the aforementioned swiftly played game against the White Sox, opposed Josh Outman in this instant classic. Things started out roughly for the Jakulantern as both Ryan Sweeney and Orlando Cabrera singled to start off the first inning. As Jason Giambi stepped up to the plate, the leverage index clocked in at 1.82. The average leverage index for the entire game was 1.88, meaning that the standard for this game featured a fair amount of stress.
Matt Holliday grounded out, scoring Sweeney, before Jack Cust launched a two-run homer, giving the As a 3-0 lead right out of the gate. From that point until the bottom of the fourth inning, nothing truly noteworthy happened, with a mere two plate appearances exceeding 1.0 on the leverage index scale. Following a Jose Lopez single in that bottom of the fourth, Mike Sweeney put the Mariners on the scoreboard with a two-run homer. The As added another run in the next half-inning and the score stayed stagnant at 4-2 in favor of Beane’s Bunch until the bottom of the seventh.
Ichiro Suzuki knocked in the third run for the Mariners in the seventh, bringing them within one run of the Athletics, but time was running out. Russ Springer came into close the game out, but things didn’t go as planned, as Kenji Johjima knotted the game at 4-4 with a solo home run. The situation grew more tense for Springer as Franklin Gutierrez and Yuniesky Betancourt each followed with singles. One out, runners on first and second, bottom of the ninth… and Springer managed to escape without any further damage.
Fast forward to the top of the thirteenth inning, with Miguel Batista on the mound for the Mariners. Landon Powell stepped into the batters box with runners on the corners and one out, and doubled both in, giving the As a 6-4 lead in the process. Orlando Cabrera knocked Powell in soon thereafter, increasing the lead to 7-4. In the bottom of the thirteenth, Bob Geren was counting on Gio Gonzalez to finish things off, unlike Springer.
Unfortunately, Gonzalez had been in the game for four previous innings and he, too, could not hold the lead, surrendering runs on three straight plate appearances: a bases loaded walk, a force out, and an rbi single. After thirteen frames, the score remained tied, this time at seven runs apiece. The game finally drew to a close in the bottom of the fifteenth, when Jose Lopez singled in Franklin Gutierrez off of Dana Eveland, with runners on the corners. Unlike the middle innings of the game, the extra frames saw a select few plate appearances feature a leverage index below 1.40.
Though an Alfonseca-handful of games could have qualified for this week’s honors, the constant back and forth deep into the world of extra innings between the As and Ms takes the cake.
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