Although I understand the need for weekday daytime baseball, so that visiting teams can get an early start on their travel plans out of town, for those of us at the office who actually work for a living, there are really only two choices - give up one's fandom for a day and look back wistfully on the game you missed, or surreptitiously sneak glances at the contest throughout, admittedly impacting your productivity. That was the struggle yesterday, as the A's took on the Cleveland Indians in the 4th game of the series, featuring the return of would-be ace pitcher Rich Harden, who has spent the vast majority of the season on the disabled list, unable to play.
With the A's "magic number" at five, Harden took the mound and exhibited an authority unlikely from any veteran who had missed as much times as he had, made even more remarkable by the fact that Harden remains a very young player, who has yet to see his 25th birthday. On a strict pitch count of 60, Harden made his way through three innings, striking out seven, and giving up only a solo home run.
While we continued our work efforts, a quick peek at Athletics Nation showed those with more flexible time were going completely bananas over Harden's return. On an otherwise hum-drum Thursday, the news of his start and its in-game success spawned more than 1,100 comments and four game threads, where other game would most likely see 500 and two respectively. The excitement was palpable, as baseballgirl started the day off with a "WHEEEEE!" and added on shortly after, HARDEN IS BACK!!!! A million pitches through 2, but he's striking everybody out."
After Harden exited, the A's rallied to take the game from the Indians 7-4, and the series, three games out of four. With the victory, the A's further reduced their magic number to four, with their rival Los Angeles Angels coming to Oakland to start a penultimate series this evening. If the A's take two of the three games on the weekend, they are the champions. We will be there tonight, and though we also have tickets for Cal vs. Arizona State tomorrow, we are hoping to be at the Coliseum Saturday as well, to see the A's players and fans alike erupt in pure joy.
Listening to ''Blue (Da Ba Dee) [Radio Edit]'', by Eiffel 65 (Play Count: 7)