The Stories of a Game

Oakland's Kila Ka'aihue following his walkoff hit

People often ask me why I watch so many different games and I always have so many different reasons.

For example, yesterday I spent some time watching the White Sox/Oakland game. You would be hard pressed to find fans of either of these teams who would disagree with me when I say that this was a meaningless April game between two teams going nowhere. Neither of teams are going to be playing in October, but that doesn’t mean an April game between the two doesn’t produce stories of interest.

For example, the White Sox trailed this game, 2-1, heading into the 9th, but Paul Konerko hit a 9th inning blast that tied the game. When you watch a game and don’t have a rooting interest, you love to see events like that particularly since it was Konerko’s 400th homer. “The round numbers, everybody likes the round numbers. When it comes to that kind of stuff, I think when I’m done playing and look back, that’s when it might hit home more,” Konerko said.

The game remained scoreless heading to 14th (the A’s made a great defensive play in the 13th to nail a runner at the plate) but in top of the 14th the White Sox picked up a pair of unearned runs. But, one of this off-season’s big stories continued to impress as Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes‘ hit a tying two-run homer (his fifth, he has 18 RBI) and then Kila Ka’aihue blooped a walkoff single to give the A’s a 5-4 win. That’s fun stuff.

The talented folks at ESPN research found this gem (so I didn’t have to put in the work) the two-run homer by Cespedes to tie the game in the 14th was the first tying (not walk-off) multi-run homer in extras since then-Pirate Adam LaRoche hit one on April 9, 2008, against the Cubs.

But while baseball loves round numbers, we may love firsts even more.

Early yesterday, the A’s called up two pitchers: Jarrod Parker and Jim Miller from Triple-A Sacramento. Parker is a 23-year old who the A’s coveted and got from the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill deal. Parker was the D-backs first round pick in 2007 and started and impressed yesterday giving up just one run on seven hits in 6.1 innings. Miller got in the game in the 14th when Alexei Ramirez welcomed Miller with a two-run double with two outs. Miller then struck out the next batter to end the inning and set up the bottom of the 14th fireworks.

Making his first appearance for the A’s was not the best of the “firsts” for Miller. Unlike Parker, Miller was not a first-rounder, he was picked in eighth round by the Rockies in the 2004 draft. Let me save you the trouble of doing the math, Miller will celebrate his 30th birthday on Saturday and he will indeed have reason to celebrate.

Miller had a cup of coffee with the Orioles in 2008. He was up long enough to to get into eight games, compile an impressive 1.12 ERA and an unimpressive 1.826 WHIP. He also took two losses. Last season, Miller had a Starbucks moment with the Rockies getting into six games with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. So yesterday was his 15th major league appearance.

Here’s the real 4-1-1 on Miller: Over his nine professional seasons, he’s also appeared in 411 minor league games pitching 493.2 innings while compiling a 22-29 record with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP in places like Modesto, Bowie, Norfolk and Colorado Springs. He defines minor league journeyman.

So, while being a major leaguer, in and of itself, may have been a victory for Miller, he was the winning pitcher yesterday, earning his first major league win … and that is my favorite story in this meaningless April game between two teams going nowhere.