Nate Freiman, like any first baseman, knows how to gauge a close play at first base, even a play he can’t see.
Judging the impact of the ball hitting the glove while feeling through your leg as a runner is almost simultaneously hitting the base becomes a habit.
And what did Freiman think of the eighth inning play Saturday when second baseman Jed Lowrie tried to throw out Chicago leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza on a medium-speed grounder with the score tied at 1-all?
“It was amazingly close,’’ Freiman said.
And when he took time to watch the video of the play later?
“It was amazingly close,’’ he said.
De Aza was ruled safe by umpire John Hirschbeck despite manager Bob Melvin’s plea that he’d made the wrong call. A bunt got De Aza to second base and an opposite-field single by Alex Rios drove in the game’s decisive run.
“We’d really have liked that call to have gone our way,’’ Freiman said. “It could have gone either way. Jed did a good job on the grounder and the runner has a lot of speed.’’
The pitcher at the time was Sean Doolittle, the left-handed ace of the bullpen who was being asked to keep the score close until the A’s offense, held captive basically all day by John Danks, could get something going.
Doolittle falls off to the third base side of the mound upon his release, so he doesn’t have a perfect view of a play like that.
“It was a bang-bang play. It could have gone either way,’’ Doolittle said. “Jed made a great play, but from where I was it was too close to call.’’
Lowrie was a little more decisive.
“I thought he was out,’’ the second baseman said. “It was close, though.’’
The person in the A’s clubhouse most up in arms was Melvin, who remained convinced after the game that the call was wrong.
“I thought from my view he was out,’’ Melvin said. The manager said his piece to Hirschbeck, then finally returned to the dugout, after which the game fell apart on Oakland.
“That’s a call you’d like to have (go your way),’’ Doolittle said.
–Starter Tommy Milone had never thrown so many pitches in a game before notching 118 in seven innings against Chicago Saturday.
And they were primarily quality pitches, too. Adam Dunn hit a solo homer in the second inning, but for the most part the White Sox didn’t touch him.
It was for that reason that Melvin opted to let Milone remain in the game in the seventh when Chicago put runners on first and third with one out. Milone came back to strike out Gordon Beckham and get Tyler Flowers on a pop fly.
“He’d gone that far, he earned it,’’ Melvin said of his decision to stick with Milone, whose previous tops this year was 111 pitches. “That was his game. It’s not like he’s a power pitcher, and it wasn’t like he was losing his stuff.’’
Milone thought along similar lines. The 118 pitches were new for him, but it wasn’t an unwelcome burden to keep going.
“I felt I’d done well enough to warrant staying in,’’ Milone said. “I felt good. I wasn’t laboring.’’
And the ploy worked at keeping the game tied for the moment, which is important to note. Milone becomes the 14th pitchers in the last 22 games to throw at least seven innings for Oakland. The A’s starters have thrown seven innings in each game of this road trip with the A’s having won four of the first six with the finale tomorrow in U.S. Cellular Field.