Another Astros game. Yay?
Given how bad BP was for the Astros the day before, you would wonder why I would want to go to an Astros game in Oakland the next day, right?
I actually have a good answer. There is this guy named Zack Hample, and I’m sure you’ve heard of him if you read this blog. He’s not just any old guy; he is one of the most talented ballhawks ever, and also writes an MLBog, The Baseball Collector Literally. EVER. As of August 13th, 2013, he had snagged 6,943 balls in 50 different MLB stadiums, since 1990. In fact, he has snagged at least 1 ball at 936 games in a row, and 2 balls at 461 games in a row. This year, he is being sponsored by BIGS Sunflower seeds to visit all 30 Major League stadiums and snag a game-used ball (HR, Foul Ball, or 3rd out Ball) at each one of them. For every stadium Zack snags a game-used ball at, BIGS will donate $500 to Pitch in For Baseball, a charitable organization, whose website you an visit here. He wrote an entry about this game, which you can check out here.
On September 2nd, 3rd , and 4th of 2011, Zack came to Oakland to see the A’s play, as he also visited all 30 MLB stadiums In 2011. On September 2nd, I got the chance to meet him at the game. You can read all about that on my blog here or on his blog here.
Anyway, I got to the Coliseum with my dad around 4:45, and when we got there, not much was going on.
Just another game at the BEAUTIFUL (Sense the sarcasm?) O.co Coliseum.
These things were set up all over the place, as they are used when the Raiders are playing at the Coliseum. I’m not entirely sure what they are used for, but I know the A’s don’t put them to any use.
There were on a few people in line when I approached gate MM.
Those people included Ryan Dalton and THE Zack Hample!
We all talked for about half an hour, where Zack gave us all sample bags of BIGS seeds, before I went off to redeem a couple of vouchers at the box office. While I was on my way, I stopped to talk to Spencer Sanborn.
I then headed back up to Gate MM, where Michael from section 148, Ryan, Zack, and myself posed for a picture, shortly before the gates opened.
There was a small crowd of people at the gate, the line was not very long.
It seemed like Zack was excited to head in.
I talked to Zack about how bad yesterday had been, updating him on the Coliseum since last time he visited.
When the gates finally opened late (5:39 instead of 5:35) we all ran in, where I grabbed a my dad and I seats in 149.
The Astros were well underway in BP, with probably half an hour left.
These three guys were patrolling the right-center field area.
These guys were in straightaway center field.
Like the day before, not many Astros pitchers were throwing balls up.
I decided to start out in right field, despite the fact Ryan and Zack both got on the board in right field immediately after getting inside.
I called out to an Astros pitcher for a ball that had bounced off the wall soon after getting inside. I was standing in the Left-Center field corner spot, to get as close to him as possible.
After I called out to him for the ball, he turned around and asked me “What happens if you fall over?”
I moved away a bit from the edge, so there was no chance it would happen. I then called out “How about now?”
He asked me if I had remembered what had happened to the fan in Texas last year, or what had happened to a fan in Atlanta just recently. I told him yes, then he told me “We aren’t allowed to throw balls up. We don’t want you falling out of the stands to your death over a stupid baseball.”
I then moved far away, but still within view and yelled “Hit me here!”
He faked a throw up to me, before laughing and throwing the ball back in. Wow…
My decision to stay in LF eventually paid off, as Rex Jones, the assistant athletic trainer tossed me a ball.
After I called out to him, he asked me “Be honest, how many balls do you have today?” I told him that I didn’t have any, and he tossed me the ball in his hand, and I wasn’t going to get shut out!
I then headed to RF, where some of the RF crew were gathering together.
Comcast SportsNet was there to do a feature segment on the Balfour Rage.
They talked to Will about how it all came to be, then the group of bleacher dwellers that were there demonstrated the rage.
Kevin Chapman tossed me a ball almost as soon as I got in to the bleachers. He saw me in my Astros hat and shirt and made a point to hook me up right away.
With Zack was his cousin Howie (Who lives in California), and Howie’s ten-year-old kids Juliana and Sam and their friend Rohan. Below, Howie is the one in the Red Hat, Rohan is the one on the left with a ball, and Juliana and Sam are both in grey on the railing.
Shortly after 6, BP came to a close. The Astros had ended even earlier than the day before!
The grounds crew then began prepping the field for the game.
The Coliseum was relatively empty at this point.
Jarrod Parker was starting for the A’s today.
Curt Young spent some time talking with bullpen coach Darren Bush.
This was my dad’s view from where he was standing.
He then headed back to the bleachers, getting pictures like this.
Shortly before the game started, the National Anthem was sung.
The Astros finished up in the bullpen.
It was time for the game to start!
I felt bad, as I knew how important it was to him to snag a foul ball, or game-used ball for that matter, so I knew that I was going to let him get the first one, so that $500 would go to Pitch in for Baseball.
Houston’s starter today was Jarred Cosart.
Nobody scored in the first 6 innings. Not only did nobody score, but only *1* foul ball was hit into the 2nd deck. It was a couple sections to my left and it was hit so hard I wasn’t even half way to the ball before it bounced back down to the lower deck.
In those first 6 innings, the closest anyone got to scoring was Josh Donaldson, who advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch in the 2nd inning.
Every time Eric Sogard came up to the plate, Will put on these glasses.
Like I mentioned, the game was low-scoring, and there was just a lack of foul balls.
We spent a lot of time catching up and talking, since there were no foul balls to run for.
Jarrod Parker hadn’t allowed a run in the first 6 innings, despite allowing 5 hits and 1 walk.
I thought Robbie Grossman had an interesting stance.
Josh Reddick struck out to end the 6th inning, and Jason Castro, the
In the top of the 7th, Chris Carter led off, hammering a pitch to Left Field for a home run, putting the Astros ahead 1-0.
The A’s countered in the bottom of the inning, with Brandon Moss doubling in Yoenis Cespedes to tie the game at 1. Eric Sogard then doubled to lead off the A’s half of the 8th.
However the inning ended fairly quickly. Alberto Callaspo grounded out, then Seth Smith was pinch hit for with Nate Freiman, who flied out to center field. Eric Sogard went to tag up and was “thrown out” at 3rd base. Bob Melvin came out to argue.
And he pleaded his case hard.
And he ended up being ejected for the 4th time this year.
Ryan Cook relieved Jarrod Parker after 2 batters in the 9th inning.
Meanwhile, Zack was behind the dugout with Howie and his kids. You can see Zack in the red BIGS hat on the right side.
Neither team scored in the 9th, so Grant Balfour came in to pitch the 10th.
Then, Stomper showed up.
In the bottom of the 10th, Chris Young stepped up to the plate with 2 outs. After 5 pitches, he bombed a 3-2 fastball to left field, which appeared to win the game!
However, Robbie Grossman made a leaping catch at the wall to end the inning.
Check out the replay.
Yesterday, a few inches could have made it clearly fair, today, a few inches would have put the ball without of reach.
Jake Elmore led off the top of the 11th for the Astros. Over the course of his 9-pitch At Bat, he hit 4 foul balls into the 2nd deck. Of course, by this time, I had come back to the bleachers, it was painful to watch it all. After 3, Zack made his way up, coming close to one.
Elmore ended up popping out, which was followed by a Jose Altuve single.
Carlos Corporan then doubled, then after an error in CF by Chris Young, Altuve came around to score, bringing the score to 3-2.
Corporan was thrown out at 3rd, which was then followed by a Chris Carter strikeout.
In the bottom of the 11th, Eric Sogard led off with a double.
However, the next 3 batters were unable to bring Sogard in, allowing the Astros to win the game.
I headed over to the area behind the Houston dugout to meet up with Zack one last time.
Ryan and I talked with him for a bit.
We then made out way into the concourse as we started walking towards the parking lot.
From there, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.
It was a better day than I expected, and I’m glad to have been able to catch up with Zack! Again, you can check out his story on the day right here.
Thanks for reading!
- 29th Game this Year (19th MLB Game)
- 2 Balls at this Game
- 25 balls in 19 MLB games this season = 1.32 Balls Per Game
- 95 Balls this season
- 53 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
- 138 Lifetime Baseballs
Nick Badders is a unofficial reporter for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook or follow him @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay on Instagram. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.