Coming into this series versus the Tampa Bay Rays evveryone knew game 1 against David Price was going to be incredibly tough, and it was, but nobody predicted exactly why it would be. All this game seemed to be missing was a position player taking the mound as the bullpen was emptied, and that almost came to be as Tampa Bay’s DH tonight Jeff Keppinger was warming up in the bullpen during the 15th inning. The A’s had squandered multiple bases loaded chances to win the game already, but this time they pushed just a little harder and Jemile Weeks was able to get just enough of a Kyle Farnsworth pitch to drive in Brandon Inge to send the remaining fans (including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in the RF bleachers) home happy.
TURNING POINT: After taking an early 2-0 lead behind a couple RBI doubles by Chris Carter and Kurt Suzuki in the 2nd, the Rays tied it up on a RBI double by an old friend Carlos Pena in the 4th. The Rays would take the lead on a solo home run by Matt Joyce, and going into the later innings it looked as if David Price was going to cruise to his MLB leading 15th victory. But Brandon Hicks of all people had other ideas. Hicks drove the 117th pitch by Price, a 95 MPH fastball out to right center field to tie the game at 3. Little did we know that longball would buy the A’s and Rays 6 extra innings of baseball tonight, but all’s well that ends well right?
ON THE HILL: AJ Griffin started this game if anyone can remember back that far. He wasn’t great, but he was solid, and he did surpass the 6 inning mark for the first time ever. Over Griffin’s 7 innings he allowed 5 hits and 3 ER while walking 2 and striking out 6. Sean Doolittle took over for Griffin, pitching a clean scoreless 8th inning. Ryan Cook took care of the 9th and 10th innings without giving up a hit and walking just 1 with 2 strikeouts. Perhaps Grant Balfour’s 1.1 innings of work could be categorized as effectively wild, but he didn’t give up a hit and only walked 1 so it seems to be true. It’s unfortunate Jerry Blevins can’t get credit for a win because his 2.2 innings were pretty huge in getting this win, he allowed 2 hits but only 1 was solidly hit, he struck out 3. Jordan Norberto walked 1 and gave up a hit in his scoreless inning and got the win when the A’s finally walked off in the bottom of the 15th. The bullpen was overall pretty spectacular tonight and made this win possible.
AT THE PLATE: In a game that goes 15 innings and ends 4-3 there are bound to be some ugly lines in the boxscore, and there most certainly were. First and foremost the A’s struck out 21 times tonight, which is an astounding number and is also a new franchise record for the Athletics, yet somehow they won. The highlights of the night included Yoenis Cespedes (3-7), Kurt Suzuki and Brandon Inge (2-6), and Chris Carter (1-4, 3 BB). Jemile Weeks and Josh Reddick each went 0-7 tonight although Weeks did have the game winning sac fly. Reddick and Inge did each take a share of tonight’s golden sombrero for their 4 K’s a piece.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Tonight’s win puts the A’s record for the month of July at 19-4, which will be the best record for the month of July ever for the A’s no matter what the result of tomorrow night’s game (Or tonight’s I guess). There is simply no denying the fact that the A’s have that special “it” factor going for them. They win games that perhaps logic and numbers would tell you they shouldn’t. But sometimes those numbers can’t possibly tell the whole story, and there is definitely a lot more than meets the eye to this team. As I write this the non-waiver trade deadline is a mere 12 hours away, so far the only move the A’s have made has been acquiring George Kottaras. Perhaps by game time tomorrow there will be a new member of the A’s roster, but time will tell if Billy Beane sees a deal he likes enough to pull the trigger on. Tomorrow night the A’s and Rays will bring their weary pitching staffs back to the O.co Coliseum as Tommy Milone (9-7, 3.51 ERA) takes on James Shields (8-7 4.52 ERA) assuming Shields hasn’t been dealt by then. The A’s yet again are in a position to take another series and are once again 10 games over .500 at 56-46, and sit just 3 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West. It’s tiring sometimes, but it sure is fun to be an A’s fan these days.