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Big League Stew

Nelson Cruz attempts to steal home and predictably fails in extra innings

The Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles hooked up for the first time this season on Friday night and proceeded to present a number of head-scratching moments during their wild and dramatic extra-inning ballgame. The A's eventually triumphed 4-3 in 11 innings, but not before the benches cleared after Manny Machado objected to a somewhat aggressive tag by A's third baseman Josh Donaldson and not before Nelson Cruz attempted to win the game with a straight steal of home in the 10th inning.

The latter is not a typo. The not-so-fleet-footed Cruz was 90 feet from home plate representing the game-winning run with Chris Davis, last year's home run (53) and RBI (138) leader in MLB, at the plate, and on his own accord elected to make a break for the plate to literally steal Baltimore a victory.

Needless to say, it didn't work. A's pitcher Fernando Abad calmly stepped off the mound and threw to catcher Derek Norris, who applied the easy tag and jogged back to the dugout for the 11th.

Good advice, but hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

From the Baltimore Sun: 

“I thought I had a shot. Obviously, I wanted to let Davis hit with two strikes. [But] I thought I had a shot, so I went for it,” Cruz said. “The attempt was there. The third baseman was way over there. I just wanted to be aggressive and get something going.”

Showalter said it wasn't a planned play, just something Cruz thought he had.

“Saw it, felt it, went for it, didn't work out,” Showalter said.

Unfortunately, that decision really only added to an immensely frustrating half inning for Baltimore. It was one giant giveaway after another that led to the demise of a once promising rally.

Way to make them earn it!

Oakland rallied to win the game in the 11th after J.J. Hardy committed his fourth error in two games, so it actually did get worse. Stephen Vogt collected the game-winning RBI on a single to left.  

As for the heated exchange between the team's third basemen:  

''I just tried to tag the guy. I was walking over there to go pick his helmet up for him, then he jumps up and starts yelling at me,'' Donaldson said. ''I don't know what happened on his end, but I'm just trying to do my job and play the game of baseball.''

Machado said: ''Right play, he made the right play, but I just didn't agree on the tag that he made on me and I just had to get up and confront him. You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying.''

Honestly, it looked like a pretty harmless tag, but it did cause Machado to lose his balance. After tumbling to the ground, he immediately slammed his helmet in Donaldson's direction. Perhaps it was fueled more by embarrassment than anything, but it was more than just heat of the moment. When Donaldson came to bat his next time, Wei-Yin Chen buzzed him once and then hit him on the arm.

Donaldson was fired up about it, but took his base without incident.  Nothing more came of it on Friday, but perhaps we'll see more over the weekend. Either way, it will be awfully difficult for both teams to top this game, both in drama and in hilarity.  

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