Walkoff - Baseball term used to describe the home team winning the game in its final at bat forcing the loosing team to ‘walkoff’ the field. Most prominently and dramatically used along with homeruns but can be used along with any event(homerun, double, single, walk, balk…) that concludes the game. (from urbandictionary.com)
A blog post is close to useless (so really I don't know why I'm trying) at describing the emotion of seeing a walkoff live. I've now been to six in the last two seasons.
Let me tell you about the most recent one.
They say a picture says a thousand words. Here is a good picture for you. The picture is a graph of the percentage chance of the Rays winning the game based upon historical data as the game progresses. The game usually starts somewhere near 50% but not necessarily because it is based upon pitching matchups and home field advantage and overall records and a number of things. So this graph shows what the odds were from the first pitch to the last and you can see the roller coaster we witnessed.
The game was similar to the game I blogged June 11th because it was a back and forth affair and each team had at least one lead during the game.
It was quick baseball to start as the pitchers each made quick work of the opposing lineups.
And then... Here's Johnny! Johnny Damon gives the Rays a lead with a homerun.
The fangraph guys jump our odds of winning over 70% which makes sense considering David Price has a perfect game through 4 innings and we are at home (even though we have a much better record on the road than at home this year). The perfect game gets broken up by an error:( but Price continues to cruise until we reach the 8th inning.
Upton gets nervous about the wall and turns a double into a triple for Stubbs. Renteria ties the game. Price still had enough stuff to get through the next two while keeping Renteria in check. This is when I was hoping Joe would pull Price but he doesn't. There are a lot of possible reasons - Price had dominated Votto so far in the game, Price hates to get pulled if he isn't in line for the win, Joe doesn't trust the bullpen. Either way 115 pitches is too many to leave a guy in against such a good hitter as Votto and Votto won that battle with a double. Renteria may not have scored from first but the double came after Price was so concentrated on Votto that he forgot about Renteria and let him steal second.
You could feel the energy seep out the doors or maybe through the roof of the dome. Fangraphs swings to favor the Reds at this point and the Rays are down 2-1.
The Never-Say-Die Rays are at it again in the bottom of the 8th. Leadoff strikeout by Upton followed by a single to Jaso (two days removed you wouldn't think I'd remember it so well). Ruggiano pinch runs but doesn't steal. Fuld comes to the plate but doesn't bunt. Fuld singles up the middle. At this point I was hoping for a double steal with two of our faster guys to give us a tying run on third with one out and go-ahead within a single of the plate. Nope.
You've heard the phrase about blessings in disguised. That might be applied to Brignac's fly to left because runners don't go on contact with few than two outs and there is no way we score both the tying and go-ahead runs on Damon's flair to leftcenter that gets deflected 20 yards or so away on a diving attempt to end the inning.
Johnny comes through again. Hope is restored and replaced with confidence all in one play as we flip the graph and the one-run deficit back to the Reds.
Farnsworth falls behind Bruce and the ball was crushed to dead centerfield. Tie game. Are you kidding me?
Close to 50/50 chance with no outs and a tie game in the top of the 9th but it didn't feel that way. It felt like all the momentum flooded the Cincinnati dugout and spread to the 5,000 or so Reds fans in attendance.
Back on our heals, we pitch well to get to the bottom half of the inning.
Evan had the same look on his face taking his warm-up swings as Johnny did taking his in the 4th before his homerun. I mentioned to my dad sitting next to me that I hadn't ever seen an Evan walkoff.
Walkoff! (this is the far right side of the graph where the odds of winning jump to 100%) It was sweet!