The A's survived a rocky first inning and with tenacity rarely seen by the 2010 offense, erased a 3-0 deficit, erased a 4-3 deficit, and with a little (okay, a lot) help from the Rays' "defense", took the lead and secured the win.
Vin Mazzaro started the game with an out, but things unraveled from there. An error by Tolleson allowed Zobrist to reach base, and a throwing error by Mazzaro himself allowed him to take second base. After an infield single put runners on the corners, Mazzaro coaxed a pop-up from Longoria (who would go 0-4 in the game) for the second out. However, Mazzaro would walk Pena to load the bases and then would give up a two-run single to Joyce to put the A's in an early 2-0 hole.
The Rays added another run in the second on a sac fly as Mazzaro started the inning with a walk and a double. He was lucky the damage was limited to one run, but with a 3-0 deficit against the Rays and an unbeaten pitcher, things looked grim for our heroes.
But then something amazing happened. Mazzaro settled down, and would go on to pitch 6.1 innings, allowing only three hits and the one run. And even more amazing? The A's offense would actually come back. A one-out double by Pennington and an infield single by Crisp in the third inning put runners at first and second for the A's. After pulling off the double-steal, which gave Barton a second strike, Barton knocked in both runs to cut the Rays' lead to only a single run.The A's would make a bid to at least tie the game in the fourth, but Upton's excellent diving catch robbed Rajai of at least a triple.
But unlike other games, where that would be the only chance to score the tying run, the A's would tie the game two innings later on a bomb by Jack Cust in the sixth.
And all was right in the world.
For about 10 minutes.
Inexplicably, Mazzaro was pulled with one out and no one on in the seventh inning, after throwing 105 pitches, and absolutely cruising the last five innings. Predictably, Jerry Blevins gave up a homerun that erased all of the A's hard work, and put them behind yet again.
And then came the eighth inning. Trailing 4-3, Jack Cust worked a lead-off walk and was replaced by Gross. Kouz (who had a great game) battled at the plate and eventually was rewarded by a single that sent Gross to third (Kouzmanoff went to second on the throw according to GameDay; I would have scored it a double). Rajai Davis knocked in the tying run with a sac fly, bringing up Travis Buck with one out and the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
What a mistake that was. Buck had probably the worst at-bat I've seen in a long, long time. Swinging at two pitches easily over his head for his first two strikes, he would eventually strike out on a ball in the dirt. It was U-G-L-Y, and if Buck would like some more playing time, I would guess that was the absolute wrong time to have a jaw-droppingly bad at-bat.
In stark contrast, the next batter Mark Ellis would work a nine-pitch walk to bring up Cliff "Hero of the four-game streak" Pennington. He hit the ball sharply at Zobrist at second, and Zobrist would absolutely freeze. He bobbled the ball, threw in the dirt, and Pennington (running hard all the way, something that not every player does on a routine ground ball) just beat the throw. Kouzmanoff would score the go-ahead run and Breslow (who replaced H-Rod after his perfect eighth), would nail down the save, thanks in part to a diving, scrambling, throwing amazing play by Pennington and Barton to retire the speedy Upton.
And the A's win again to take sole possession of second place, and keep pace 7 games behind the Texas Rangers. We do it again tomorrow.
Athletics lead the series 2-0
WP: Trevor Cahill (13 - 5)
SV: Jerry Blevins
LP: Dan Wheeler (2 - 1)
|4 - 3 win|
WP: Henry Rodriguez (1 - 0)
SV: Craig Breslow
LP: Joaquin Benoit (0 - 2)
|5 - 4 win|
|Sun 08/22||1:05 PM PDT|