Barry Zito’s Final Game at the Coliseum

I awoke and watched the second hour of CBS This Morning. They talked about National Lampoon magazine. I went out to the coffee shop to have a strawberry-banana smoothie. I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend. The Top 10 songs on September 30, 1978 were “An Everlasting Love,” “Love is in the Air,” “Reminiscing,” “Hot Child in the City,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Summer Nights,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” and “Kiss You All Over.” I went out to the Coliseum. Before I went to the gate, I stopped at a tent sale and bought a hoodie. I saw that they were out of caps in my size. A video of the 20-game winning streak in 2002 was shown on the big screen. As it was ending, Barry Zito came onto the field to warm up. I had sat in the same section nearly in the same seat during the years Zito was originally with the A’s. I am one row closer to the field now. I was there for the previous game that Zito pitched for the A’s, which was nine years ago. He looked pretty good throwing from the bullpen mound, but it was going to be tough when he got into the game. I thought of George Plimpton’s attempt to pitch to major league players. As The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” played over the sound system, the Banjo Man stood right next to me playing along to the song. Klay Thompson threw out the first pitch. Zito got the first out of the game with two pitches, but then he allowed singles to the next two Giants batters. He got the second out on a fly ball to left field. He gave up a double for two runs before getting the third out on another fly ball to left field. “Sweet Home Alabama” played as Tim Hudson took the mound. He had a good first inning, only allowing a single to Mark Canha. Zito ran into more trouble in the second inning, allowing a home run, a double, and a single for two more runs. He managed to get through the inning, but he wouldn’t be out there much longer. Hudson couldn’t throw a strike in the bottom of the inning. Stephen Vogt walked on four pitches, and Billy Butler was hit by a pitch. Brett Lawrie reached base on an error, loading the bases with no outs. Eric Sogard walked to make the score 4-1. Sam Fuld walked to make the score 4-2. Billy Burns hit into a force play at home. Mark Canha was hit by a pitch to make the score 4-3. Hudson went to a 2-0 to Josh Reddick when the Giants made a pitching change. This was the way that Hudson’s last appearance at the Coliseum would end. Reddick wasn’t able to produce the big hit, grounding into a 6-3 double play. Zito’s last pitch would come just minutes later, as he went to a 3-2 count before walking the first batter of the third inning. Bob Melvin took him out of the game to the cheers of the crowd, and Pat Venditte took the mound. Venditte got the three batters he faced out, and so the score remained at 4-3. The A’s continued scoring runs in the bottom of the third inning. Danny Valencia singled and Vogt doubled. After Butler struck out, Lawrie walked to load the bases. Sogard came through with a double to put the A’s ahead, 5-4. Fuld made an out, but then Burns doubled, making the score 7-4. Canha hit a ball to left field that should have been caught, but it dropped for a gift double and one more run. After a pitching change, Reddick walked and then Valencia walked, but Vogt struck out to end the inning. The problem for the A’s would be holding onto that 8-4 lead with the pitchers they had. On September 1, the A’s pitching was third in the American League in ERA, but the next three weeks were terrible. Aaron Brooks replaced Venditte, and he got through the fourth and fifth innings keeping the score at 8-4. The A’s did nothing on offense over those two innings, with Giants winning a play review on a safe call on Lawrie at first base. We saw a pie eating contest. One of the fans wore eyeglasses. Brooks couldn’t get through the sixth inning, giving up four hits and three runs. Fernando Rodrigues came in and got the third out with one pitch. In the bottom of the inning, the A’s did reply with a Valencia single and a Butler home run off the left field foul pole. The score was 10-7. We saw a Big Head race in which Rickey Henderson won for the 17th time. Rodriguez got the first batter of the seventh inning out, but then he allowed a single, prompting Bob Melvin to bring in Drew Pomeranz, which I knew would be a mistake. I knew he was going to do something bad, but I didn’t know it was going to happen so quickly. His first pitch went out of the park for a home run, making the score 10-9. Pomeranz allowed another hit, but the runner was thrown out at second, 9-6. Pomeranz got the third out on another ball to Reddick. After the seventh inning stretch, the A’s couldn’t respond to those runs, which seemed like a bad sign. I don’t know why Pomeranz was still out there to start the eighth inning. He gave up a quick hit, and Melvin took him out and brought in Ryan Dull, whose ERA before Friday’s game was 0.00, but was increasing by leaps and bounds. He got his first batter out on a foul ball to Canha, but then he gave up a double. A fly ball to left field brought in a run, tying the score at 10-10. After an intentional walk, Dull walked a pinch-hitter on four pitches. With Dull not looking sharp and about to face a batter who had already hit two home runs for three RBI, and who had hit a massive home run off him the night before, it seemed that Melvin should have made a pitching change right then. However, Melvin stayed with Dull for one more pitch, which would be a fatal pitch, as it went for a grand slam and a ridiculous 14-10 score. Too late, Melvin went to Fernando Abad, who struck out the next batter. The A’s got only a two-out hit from Valencia in the bottom of the inning, and so it appeared that this game had slipped away. Dan Otero pitched the top of the ninth inning. After one out, he allowed a single, and the runner impressively went to third base on a 5-3 out, but Otero managed the third out on another ground ball. Butler singled to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Lawrie hit his second line drive to third that turned into an out. Marcus Semien pinch-hit for Sogard and singled. Coco Crisp pinch-hit for Fuld but struck out. Burns grounded out 4-3 for the last out of the game. Unhappily, it was the A’s 90th loss of the season. The game began at 1:06 and ended at 4:38. The attendance was 36,067. I rushed back home to get something to eat. I found a message on my answering machine about the game. I took a brief trip to Barnes and Noble, where I bought the special issues of Rolling Stone magazine on Keith Richards and Madonna. I returned home to watch the Star Trek episode “The Man Trap.” I tried to watch “Hannie Caulder” but fell asleep. One of the television channels was having a marathon of “That Girl.” Some of the people who died on September 27 include Babe Zaharias (1956), Donald O’Connor (2003), and George Blanda (2010). Today is a birthday for Shaun Cassidy (57), Meat Loaf (68), and Wilford Brimley (81). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for September 27, the Beach Boys made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. In 1980, the Stray Cats signed with Arista Records in Britain. In 1986, the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” re-entered the U.S. singles chart based on the song’s appearance in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

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