Saturday, June 10, 2006

June 10th, 1997

A's at Tigers

One interesting thing about truly bad teams--maybe the only interesting thing about them--is the variety of different ways they find to lose games. This year's desperately bad Kansas City Royals, for example, managed to blow a 7-4 ninth inning lead against Baltimore after their closer walked the bases loaded with no one out. The 2003 Tigers lost a seventeen inning game during which the Yankees deployed David Wells (fresh off the DL) to pitch almost six innings.

The 1997 A's weren't quite as bad as those teams, but they nonetheless found new and different ways to lose. Facing the Tigers (who weren't altogether that good themselves) the A's turned five double plays, including old standards 6-4-3, 4-6-3 and 5-4-3, plus the sometimes seen line-out 1-3 double play and the always exciting 8-2 double play on a (failed) sac fly. That runner gunned out at home was one of three the Tigers had thrown out at the plate, all by A's center fielder Damon Mashore. Today excepted, Mashore had a career that was matched in its level of mediocrity only by that of his father, Clyde Mashore.

For the day, the A's managed to get five "free" outs from the double plays, plus the two "free" outs from Mashore's defense. That's seven outs, more than a quarter of the twenty-seven they needed. Despite that, the A's still managed to lose the game (which, incidentally, marked the debut of Boston post-season hero Mark Bellhorn) 6-4. From the depths of a bad team, a new and creative way to lose a game: the free-outs-but-all-for-naught loss.

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