Today, we are eschewing the categories associated with the typical POTD paradigm, as the idea of context versus context neutral was shattered- nay, obliterated- by one single player’s performance. On July 24th, the Oakland Athletics were pretty clearly the best team in baseball. They had already won 63 games, with the Angels as the only other with even 60. They had far and away the best run differential in baseball. According to Fangraph’s estimates, they had a 73.6% chance of winning their division and a 99.8% chance of making the playoffs. Then, as you’re likely aware, they began their slide. The Angels kept winning while they kept losing, until last night they found themselves at a whopping 7 games behind the Angels. If any team were ever in must-win mode, it was the Athletics last night.
And at the start of the last half-inning of the game, it appeared as though that was what they were going to do. Up by one. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. Nobody on base. Eric O’Flaherty and his 1.7 ERA on the mound to face Tyler Flowers and his measly 89 wRC+ at the plate. An elite reliever against a career .220 guy who strikes out in 35% of his plate appearances. But, as Ron Washington always said, “That’s the way baseball go.”
Eric knew as soon as it came off the bat this game was going to head into extra innings. The White Sox and Athletics would continue to battle back and forth until the bottom of the 12th, when Flowers came back to the plate. Jesse Chavez left a curveball up in the zone, and Tyler didn’t miss it.
How many times has a player both tied the game in the bottom of the 9th before walking it off, let alone with a home run both times? I have no idea. When was the last time that feat was accomplished by someone with so few career accomplishments as Tyler Flowers? Well, if I didn’t know the first answer I sure as hell don’t know this one. These questions were simply rhetorical devices, which is an English term and a reminder that I need to stick to spreadsheets. Honestly, I don’t know why I even wrote so many words for this one, as the performance speaks for itself. Tyler Flowers may have had the game of the season, and I hope you folks enjoy it as much as I did.