Donaldson goes against the grain with head-first slide

Josh Donaldson went against the grain with head-first slide Sunday in Boston

Josh Donaldson went against the grain with head-first slide Sunday in Boston


When Josh Donaldson scored the second of Oakland’s three runs Sunday, he did it with a sixth inning head-first slide at home plate.

You know those car commercials where they say “don’t try this at home?’’ The head-first slide at the plate is baseball’s version of that.

Donaldson had already been thrown out on a feet-first slide at the plate three innings earlier, and he wasn’t about to take any chances. Yoenis Cespedes had doubled off the wall in left-center, and the A’s, locked in a 1-all tie, badly needed the run.

“It’s the play they tell you never to make, sliding head-first like that,’’ Donaldson said. “But I was thinking about the first play.’’

The first play, in the third inning, was gnawing at Donaldson even after the A’s 10-inning 3-2 win.

He slid home saying “I know the catcher (A.J. Pierzynski) didn’t tag me before I got there.’’

But umpire Mark Ripperger saw it differently.

“Mark said his leg blocked me and I never touched the plate,’’ Donaldson said. “The A’s could have challenged that ruling, but they’d already used up their challenge on the first play of the game when Coco Crisp thought he’d beaten out a grounder to third base. Oakland manager Bob Melvin challenged. He lost, and with nine innings yet to play, the A’s were out of challenges.

What the A’s could do was to ask for a review of whether or not Pierzynski had blocked the plate. It was determined he had not. It’s not clear if the umpires looked at the whole play, because some of the replays seemed to show Donaldson scoring.

“A.J. is one of the best at that play,’’ Donaldson said, “He gave me a lane (to the plate), then he closed it as I got there. Once he did that, the next time I decided I was going to go in head-first.’’

This time it worked.

One thing is becoming clear – the change in rules that allow Major League baseball teams to challenge calls aren’t doing the A’s any favors.

The A’s have made 10 challenges in 31 games and have only been successful on three of them. Whatever the A’s are doing with their challenges, they need to do something different.

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.