I really liked Oakland's park. But that's probably because I hate crowds. When individual tickets went on sale this off-season, we got tickets to the Monday night game. Good seats in the 20th row behind the dugout. This was section 113, which we shared on Monday and Wednesday with Dusty Baker's family (and maybe Jonny Gomes's mom on Wednesday). We went with our friends Thomas and Amy who live in Mountain View. The attendance was about 11,000 but it seemed less, because it is such a big stadium. I hear the place is absolutely crazy for Raiders games, which I would love to see. But it's not a great place for a baseball game.
Coming off of the sweep in Seattle, the Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Phillips (out of the lead-off hole) got on on an error and Votto doubled off the wall. A sign of improvement? Not really. It was quiet until the 9th. The A's got a run off of Leake in the 5th with a walk and two singles. In the top of the 9th, Stubbs walked and stole second. Bruce, batting for Heisey (Bruce didn't start against Gonzalez, a reasonably tough lefty) knocked in Stubbs. Three outs away from the win. But Cordero gave up a home run to Kouzmanoff on the first pitch he threw to tie the game. But leading off the tenth, Hernandez hit a line shot that hit about half way up the foul pole. It was the offensive highlight of the trip. Votto and Rolen homered back-to-back later in the inning and the Reds had a four-run lead. Cordero walked the first two guys in the bottom of the tenth and Dusty yanked him. It's one thing to give up an opposite field home run to the lead-off guy when you're up one. It's a completely different thing to walk the first two with a four-run lead. Herrera came in and gave up a hit to Jackson to load the bases, but he got Sweeney to ground out. Jordan Smith came in and got another ground-out and a strikeout to earn his first career save. To me, that left the obvious question: was it time to make Rhodes the closer?
Apparently not. After the 6-4 Monday win, Dusty went right back to Cordero to save a 4-2 game Tuesday night, which he did without incident. He gave up a lead-off hit, a strikeout, and another hit, but he finished it off with a double play. Tuesday night we had a big group with some of our friends and some friends of friends. We sat right near the top of the lower section, right behind the plate. I told you the outcome, but the big story was Arroyo, who went 8 innings only giving up two runs. He didn't walk anyone and gave up only 5 hits. The win evened our record on the road trip (the Reds were 2-3) and set up a shot at a sweep, which they did on Wednesday. The crowd was about 12,000.
We had no tickets for Wednesday afternoon, but got two right behind the Reds' dugout. Same section as Monday night, but only about 7 rows behind the dugout. Surprisingly, there were over 20,000 in attendance. But our section was not full. We had no one directly in front of us or right beside us. The weather was absolutely beautiful, sunny and 70. And the Reds did not disappoint. Bruce's day-off apparently worked. Counting the big pinch hit on Monday, he was 7-9 for the series, including 3-3 on Wednesday, with a big two-out two-run single in the first. That was all Cueto needed. He pitched in and out of trouble but did not give up a run in 7 plus innings. He left after he gave up two hits to start the eighth. He was helped out by Massett who came in and got a double play (on a very nice play by Cairo, filling in for Rolen) and a strikeout to end the threat. The big play of the game, however, happened in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and no out, Gross hit a soft liner/pop-up to Phillips at second. Phillips let it drop in front of him and fired home for the force. Hernandez fired to third to get the next force, but Cairo kind of waited to tag the runner. I'm pretty sure if he had fired to second they might have had a triple play. But the double play was enough. Rosie struck out to end the inning.
Bob Geren, the A's manager, went nuts and got tossed. The crowd didn't really react to anything other than Geren's tantrum. I'm not even sure the crowd knew why he was arguing. Later in the game, there was a very small mock cheer when the umpire called the infield fly rule. If that had happened in Cincy, the crowd would have gone crazy both times.
Today, we're off to Yosemite. One of my favorite places in the world.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
4 weeks ago