Athletics 7 – Mariners 4 (10 innings)
I’d be lying if I said I was completely shocked by Brandon Moss‘ walk off 3 run home run in the 10th inning today. But the way this game took shape, it made perfect sense to me. I talked earlier today about how Jason Vargas was an A’s killer, and he proved me right as he shut down the A’s offense for 7 solid innings this afternoon. Not coincidentally upon Vargas’ exit from the game, the A’s bats emerged from their 7 inning slumber and took it to the Mariners.
The Mariners jumped out to an early lead against Dan Straily after the A’s reverted to Little League mode when Brandon Moss threw a potential double play ball into left field, and Yoenis Cespedes threw the ball into the A’s dugout trying to nail the runner at 3rd. Straily was able to keep the damage at just the 1 unearned run for the time being. Kyle Seager homered to lead off the top of the 3rd, and Michael Saunders launched his 2nd homer of the series as well, a 2 run shot. The A’s found themselves in a deep hole that it appeared unlikely they would be able to dig out of as Jason Vargas continued to deal.
Straily would last just 4.1 innings as the long ball and walks sent him out early. He allowed 4 runs (3 ER) on just 3 hits, but he walked 4 while striking out 3. Pedro Figueroa bailed him out of a mess in the 5th by striking out the next two batters, and he pitched a clean 6th as well. Pat Neshek and Evan Scribner combined for clean 7th and 8th innings, and Scribner and Ryan Cook teamed up for a scoreless 9th inning.
Brandon Moss had the hot hand today, and that was before he hit the walk off home run. He drove in the A’s first run on a single when Yoenis Cespedes was running on the pitch and simply never stopped until he scored. He also drove in Coco Crisp with a double in the bottom of the 8th to cut the lead to 2, Stephen Drew was thrown out at home to end the inning on that play. All told Moss went 3-5 with 5 RBI today.
Josh Donaldson made a pretty huge contribution though as well, that set up the final drama. Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmson had come in during the 8th inning, and came back out to try and lock down the save for Seattle in the 9th. After Josh Reddick drew a walk though, Josh Donaldson smoked an 0-1 curveball over the center field wall to tie the game at 4. After a big hit like that, the A’s had to feel like they were going to take this game, and indeed they did.
In the 10th Grant Balfour pitched a 1-2-3 frame, and did so on just 9 pitches. Coco Crisp led off the 10th for the A’s with a single, his 4th hit of the day, and after Stephen Drew lined out Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk. The table was set for Brandon Moss who wasted no time taking Steve Pryor’s first pitch fastball onto the steps in right field to send the Coliseum into a frenzy.
A win like this is the kind of win that can really propel a team this time of year, so hopefully the A’s can take advantage of that. Looking briefly at the race in the AL, the Orioles defeated the truly hapless Red Sox to maintain their 1 game lead over the A’s in the wild card race (And also pull into a tie for first in the AL East). The Rays won against the White Sox so they remain 3 games behind the A’s. The Angels and Rangers were postponed due to rain today, so they will play a double header tomorrow in Arlington. So for the moment the A’s are 2.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.
The A’s magic number is now down to 3, and it is conceivable that 24 hours from now they’ll be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs if they win and the Angels lose both games of the double header. Either way, at this point it appears that nothing short of a major collapse will keep the A’s out of postseason baseball in 2012.
Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.75 ERA) takes the mound for the A’s tomorrow against Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA). Ramirez pitched well against the A’s in a losing effort earlier this year, but this team is vastly different from the one he saw before, here’s to hoping for a rude reintroduction.
90+14=3, the magic formula says it all.