Ziegler's record streak comes to an end
A's reliever tosses 39 1/3 scoreless innings to begin career
OAKLAND -- It's not every day a pitcher is asked to send his cleats to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
And it's not every day a pitcher gets to ride an IndyCar in style to the ballpark.
And, alas, it's not every day a pitcher gives up a go-ahead run and receives a standing ovation.
Then again, it's not every day you come across a pitcher such as Brad Ziegler, who will be able to tell all of the above stories to his grandchildren some day. The A's reliever, who had been riding a Major League record career-opening scoreless streak of 38 innings heading into Thursday's game against Tampa Bay, ended the historic ride in the ninth inning by surrendering a tiebreaking RBI double to B.J. Upton.
Just as Ziegler has helped out the A's out countless times this season, though, his teammates did him a favor in the bottom half of the inning by tying it, forcing extra innings in a game that the A's eventually lost in the 12th, 7-6.
Ziegler had consistently downplayed the streak since it first began on May 31. So it was no surprise that the pitcher admitted to worrying more about the go-ahead run.
"Streaks don't matter," he said. "It would mean a lot more to get wins. My goal is always to go out and get outs. Today, I didn't do that."
Ziegler retired the side in the eighth -- extending his streak to 39 to tie the Major League mark for relievers -- but he said it didn't take long to realize that throwing another zero wasn't going to be so easy. That much was evident by the hard-hit balls Tampa Bay sprayed every which way.
"I knew it, too, with all those fly balls they were getting," he said. "I just didn't know how to make adjustments. They were ready for my mistakes, and I just made too many of them."
With one out in the ninth, Akinori Iwamura singled to right, and then Upton lined a sharp double to left, plating Iwamura. After an intentional walk, Ziegler stemmed the uprising by inducing a double-play grounder.
But the run gave Ziegler his first ERA above zero -- a whopping 0.23 mark. He doesn't have plans to increase it again anytime soon, though.
"If I was going to give up a run, I wish it wasn't one that was going to tie the game," said Ziegler, who was honored on Wednesday with a ride to the ballpark in an IndyCar. "But I hope everything I've done is a sign that there are more good things to come. I don't want this to be the highlight of my career or just be remembered for my first 39 innings."
Manager Bob Geren, for one, is a strong believer that said notion is highly unlikely.
"It's unbelievable what he's done," the skipper said of the streak. "We'll put him right back out there to try to start another."
In honor of Ziegler's streak, the A's will be offering $1.01 tickets -- reflecting the 101-year-old big league mark to begin a career that he broke -- for Plaza Level, Plaza Outfield and Plaza Reserved seats on Aug. 29 for the game against Minnesota. The promotion will be available online beginning at 9 a.m. PT on Friday with the code "ZIGGY."
Before the game, there will be a presentation honoring the A's pitcher and his record-setting career start.
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.