Here’s what championships are made of, folks: trailing the woeful Astros by three runs in the top of the ninth inning, the A’s plate six and win the game. This avoids the ignominy of two consecutive losses to the Houstonians. What might get lost in the shuffle is the re-emergence of Alberto Callaspo, role-player supreme, who comes to the plate as a pinch-hitter after the first two Athletics reach in the ninth. Facing nasty 93 mph sinkers from Chad Qualls, Alberto fouls one off, and then takes two in a row, a ball and a strike. Now, he’s got you where he wants you, Señor Qualls. This man is a bad-ass two-strike hitter. Another sinker? Smack. A line single into centerfield, two runs, and the A’s are back in business.
What happens to Alberto? Of all the things he can do on a baseball diamond–including playing about 7 of the available 9 positions–running is not one of them. (And, he just returned from a hamstring injury). Alberto has an NFL running back’s build, minus the speed. A pinch-runner comes in for the pinch-hitter, and Alberto’s night is over.
If the A’s beat the Angels by one game for the American League West title, remember this game. Alberto Callaspo certainly will.
In other VZ news, in the same game, Jose Altuve went 1-for-3 with an RBI to maintain his .343 average. In Detroit, it was an absolute nightmare for the Venezuelan contingent, as Miguel Cabrera’s seventh-inning error opened the floodgates for Chicago (Miguel playing third tonight in a rarity while Victor Martinez played first). Anibal Sanchez left two men on, and Joakim Soria let them, and everyone but the ushers, score in a nightmare six-hit, four-run inning for the Mexican reliever. Even Eugenio Suarez committed an error at shortstop. Give the VZ boys of the Motor City a mulligan on the night.
Henderson Alvarez continues to have a wonderful, quiet season for the Marlins of Miami. Seven shutout innings against Washington lowered his ERA to 2.48 and raised his record to 8-5 as “The Fish” hit .500 and remain in the playoff conversation (well, who doesn’t?). Wilson Ramos walked twice for the Nationals—oh, that catcher’s batting eye.
In a showdown of small-market shortstops named Escobar, Eduardo’s Twins bested Alcides’ Royals, 2-1. Alcides got a hit and turned two double plays with countryman Omar Infante, but Kansas City’s offensive struggles continue as they look to stay in the wild card hunt.
If I told you that Elvis Andrus singled home the Rangers’ 10th and 11th runs in the 9th inning against New York, you’d say, ‘wow, a comprehensive victory.’ (Or in the common parlance, ‘what a Texas-sized ass-kicking, dude!’). Except the woeful Rangers pitchers gave up an even dozen and the NYY staff survived a very shaky final frame to emerge victorious. Elvis went 3-for-5 before leaving the building; Roughned Odor took an oh-fer, and Robinson Chirinos had a hit in the Arlington slugfest.
In Cincinnati, a total of four Venezuelan Diamondbacks could not solve the Reds’ pitching, as Arizonans begin to look forward to the basketball and football seasons. Ender Inciarte, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra and Miguel “Microwave” Montero tallied three hits among them; Prado and Parra faced the heat of Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman in the ninth—each confronting four pitches at over 100 mph.