The bright spots have been few and far between for the Oakland Athletics this year, as it has been, for the most part, a lost season. Mark Ellis hasn’t exactly had the year he was hoping for either, missing 56 games and batting .216 through July 16. However, Ellis has heated up tremendously since then, and entered play tonight hitting .283 on the year and leading all of baseball in RBI in the month of August with 19. (Ellis added one to his total in the 4th inning tonight with an RBI double off AJ Burnett)
Ellis has been a cornerstone for the franchise at 2B since he was acquired along with Johnny Damon from the Kansas City Royals in 2001. Now that Eric Chavez’s career seems all but over, Ellis will become the A’s longest tenured player. It’s been an up and down career during his time in Oakland, but he has always been a dependable player, especially defensively, when in the lineup. His propensity for the high infield popup from the plate hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the Oakland faithful, but for a franchise that is known far more as a revolving door, of sorts, than a dynasty, Ellis has been a breath of fresh air. One can only wonder whether he will continue to be a key piece of the puzzle, or if the A’s will capitalize on his hot finish and deal him for more coveted prospects in the offseason.
Mark Ellis gets mobbed after his walkoff home run off Bobby Jenks Sunday
While we’re on the subject of hot hitters, Rajai Davis deserves a mention for having the 4th highest batting average in the American League since July 28th, hitting .385. Finally getting a chance to be an everyday player, although whether that’s where he belongs or not is still up for debate, Davis has proved to be a threat at the plate now, in addition to on the basepaths, where he’s always been able to swipe bags with much success. With the A’s lack of depth in the outfield throughout the system, it also begs the question of whether Rajai could find a long-term home in Oakland. Since the postseason is not in the cards for this season, these are the questions fans are left to ponder, however unexciting they may be.
Somehow, Y.E. Yang did all the fist pumping and dancing around the greens in front of a stunned Tiger on his huge Sunday charge that made him the winner of the PGA Championship. The ultimate fist pump came when he chipped in an eagle on the 14th hole to take the lead away from Tiger for the first time in this major championship. Yang took down the seemingly unbeatable Woods! It was Tiger’s first loss in a major when leading or having a share of the lead in the final round. This was Yang’s first major win, and it was only his second PGA Tour win of his career. It was the second time he beat Woods though, as he took him down in China a couple of years ago. This was far different and there was much more pressure. What made it more amazing was the fact he took down the worlds #1 golfer by playing in the final pairing with Woods, and shot an amazing 5 shots better than Tiger for the day!
During the whole telecast the CBS crew kept waiting and talking about when Tiger would do his usual thing, which is come back and win. This was the first time that it wasn’t his day as the announcers kept inquiring”Is this the putt that gets Tiger going? Was that the drive?” As they hoped they would see some historical shot by Tiger none of them conceded that Yang could really win this tournament, until Tiger missed the green badly on the 18th hole. Honestly, I didn’t really think he’d win either, but on the par 3 17th hole when Yang hit his tee shot it landed inches from a hillside that would have kicked his ball into the water it felt like it was his day. Instead of his ball going out of bounds, his ball landed about 10 feet from the hole giving him a birdie opportunity. He had luck on his side, as there were a few other bounces that went his way, but this one was the most pivotal!
Although Tiger was missing putts that he usually makes, Yang was the more aggressive player on the course as he went for all he could on every shot. Meanwhile Woods seemed to lay up on holes, and take the safe route. He looked like he was playing not to win, but just trying to not lose. I think Woods thought Yang would just fade away the same way Harrington did last week. That was not the case, as Yang didn’t care about the huge gallery following Tiger, and played his game aggressively from start to finish!
Yang marks the first time a Major Championship has been won by an Asian, well, I guess the first full Asian winner, because Tiger is a halfer. I along with many felt that KJ Choi would be the first Asian to win a major, but Yang took those honors! The win can only help golf as they are always trying to expand their horizons across the globe. Go asian people!