The Bringer of Rain returns.
Josh Donaldson was one of the A’s brightest (and most brief) stars, dominating the hot corner in Oakland from 2012 through 2014.
During that final season with the A’s, Donaldson already had clubbed several walk-off homers going into a late-September series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
After speedster Billy Burns took the field to replace Nate Freiman as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th inning, Donaldson strode to the plate and crushed his third walk-off homer of the season.
But you can see the game in its entirety on Sunday, as it will air at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports California.
Here are five anecdotes from a wild Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum.
As I previously mentioned, Donaldson already had hit a pair of walk-off home runs in 2014. One came off former Detroit Tigers shut-down closer Joe Nathan, while the other came courtesy of then-Baltimore Orioles pitcher Zack Britton's fastball in mid-July.
Donaldson hit an astounding .362 with two outs and runners in scoring position that season, as he was one of the team’s most reliable players when it mattered.
Now with the A’s, relief pitcher Jake Diekman was just a spry, 27-year-old in his third season with the Phillies back in 2014. Philly drafted Diekman in the 30th round of the 2007 draft, and the southpaw eventually made his MLB debut in May 2012.
Diekman also spent time with the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Kansas City Royals before finding his way to Oakland in 2019.
Diekman threw one inning in that contest back in 2014, allowing one hit while facing four batters in the bottom of the eighth inning. Donaldson happened to be one of those four, but Diekman struck the slugger out swinging.
Where’d everybody go?
Year-to-year roster turnover obviously is common in MLB, but teams usually have at least one player whose career with the club spans at least a decade.
Not with these two teams, however. Not one player who took the field for either team that day in 2014 still is with the A’s or Phillies. Talk about turnover.
Feels weird, right?
A’s-Phillies used to be one of the bigger rivalries in baseball, as both teams occupied the City of Brotherly Love between 1901 and 1954. The “City Series,” as it was known, pitted Philadelphia’s two professional baseball clubs against each other. The initial vitriol between the crosstown rivals even kept the teams from playing each other until 1903.
Now on opposite ends of the country and in opposite leagues, there isn’t much fire between the clubs.
They still meet every few years, but this was the last time the squads faced off in Oakland. The A’s took two out of three in Philadelphia back in 2017. The two former neighbors were supposed to play each other this upcoming season, although it remains to be seen how the MLB schedule will be adjusted after the coronavirus pause.
When it rains, it pours
2014 was one of Donaldson’s finest professional seasons, as the third baseman finished eighth in AL MVP voting and was named to his second All-Star team.
However, after an offseason trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, Donaldson won the AL MVP in 2015 after hitting 41 home runs and finishing with a league-leading 123 RBI.
The slugger did encounter some injury trouble in the years following his MVP honors, but he made a major comeback in 2019. Donaldson smashed 37 home runs with the Atlanta Braves en route to winning the NL's Comeback Player of the Year award last season.