No doubt about it as tonight’s game moved along into the latter innings, deadlocked at 2, many A’s fans had to have visions of the 3 walk off losses they had endured in the previous 4 games. And tonight began to shape up very much in the same mold as the previous ones had. This time though the A’s silenced the opposition, and got a huge home run from George Kottaras in the top of the 10th inning to give the A’s a lead they would not give up.
Tommy Milone looked like he might be in for a rough night after the first couple batters of the game singled to put 2 runners on with the mighty Josh Hamilton coming to bat. And while Hamilton did hurt the A’s with a single, it was a costly error by Brandon Moss in right field that allowed the 2 runners to score. Hamilton ended up at 3rd on the play as the ball rolled all the way to the wall, but Tommy Milone was able to bear down and keep Hamilton right where he stood. The Rangers would not score again. Milone retired 11 straight after that Hamilton single in fact, so he really was on his game. His pitch count got a little high so he only was able to last 6 innings, but his outing was more than sufficient to get the job done. In his 6 innings Milone allowed 6 hits, 2 unearned runs, walked none, and struck out 3. Jim Miller, Sean Doolittle, and Evan Scribner combined for 3 scoreless innings giving up just 1 hit while walking 3. Grant Balfour worked a clean bottom of the 10th for his 21st save.
After the Rangers scored in the first inning, the A’s battled right back in the top of the 2nd against spot starter Scott Feldman. Originally scheduled starter Yu Darvish was scratched because of a stiff neck. After walks to Brandon Moss and Chris Carter, Daric Barton who got the start after some shaky defense at first base recently doubled to right and drove in Moss (First pitch shockingly). Chris Carter hit a ball with major top spin hard enough that it didn’t have time to dive down and stay in play in the 4th inning to tie the game, it was his 16th homer of the year. After that no scoring would take place until the Kottaras homer in the 10th.
Josh Reddick was not in the starting lineup, but did appear in a pinch hit role, but still couldn’t break his 0 for now 28 streak in his lone at bat. This slump is reaching its breaking point, his AVG has slipped to .241 during his recent struggles. If he can break out of this before the season’s end it will be a huge boost to the A’s offense.
Speaking of boosts to the offense Coco Crisp appeared as a pinch runner in today’s game and did steal a base. He was on the field during batting practice taking fly balls, so he may be close to returning to the lineup. His presence as a catalyst at the top of the order is essential to the A’s success in this home stretch.
Evan Scribner notched his first big league victory after pitching a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th inning, his contributions to the A’s this year have gone largely unnoticed, but he’s become a fairly dependable middle reliever.
With this win the A’s pull back to within 4 games of the Rangers in the AL West, thus keeping the sliver of hope alive that they can catch them with 5 games still to play between the two. Crazier things have happened. Meanwhile in the wild card race with the Orioles loss to the Blue Jays tonight the A’s are back to within 1/2 game in the wild card standings. The Angels resisted a late comeback attempt by the Seattle Mariners to win in Anaheim, so they remain 2 games behind the A’s. It would be huge if the A’s could pass the Orioles again and have the Angels on their tail instead. As they say, you don’t have to outrun the rally monkey, you just have to outrun the other team.
Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.40 ERA) takes the hill after his dominant start at Yankee Stadium on Friday, he is the de facto ace of this staff and they need him to bring his A game tomorrow. The Rangers will send out rookie Martin Perez (1-2, 3.78 ERA) who beat the A’s in Arlington for his 1 victory, that came right before the A’s started this run that propelled them into the pennant race. The A’s can take this opportunity to show Perez that this is a completely different team than the one he saw on June 30.