It's amazing the difference a few days makes in this roller-coaster season. After a heartbreaking loss in Friday's game, where the A's closer couldn't hold the lead in a slug-fest, tonight's game featured the highest of highs as the A's rallied for three runs in the ninth to finally tie this slug-fest, and subsequently take the lead. This time the new closer, although wobbly (it's Coors, after all), managed to hold off the Rockies from a comeback of their own and nail down the thrilling win. The A's bullpen pitched five scoreless innings at Coors Field, giving the A's the innings they needed to recover from a first inning grand slam and take Tommy Milone off the hook for the loss. All eight runs were earned, and all eight were his.
The game started happily enough for the A's as they faced their one-time teammate, Josh Outman. After a one-out single by Collin Cowgill (who was terrific tonight), red-hot Seth Smith blasted a homerun to give the A's an early 2-0 lead. Unfortunately, Milone's first inning was whatever the opposite of "shut-down inning" is; he gave up five runs in the first; lowlighted by a grand slam, and an RBI single by the pitcher, Outman. Michael Cuddyer (A's killer) hit a homerun in the second to give the Rockies a 6-2 lead, and things looked pretty bleak.
But this is Coors Field.
Jonny Gomes (who shouldn't have even been in the game--more on this later--and was utterly fantastic) hit a one-out double in the fourth inning and scored on a single by Brandon Inge. Brandon Moss promptly hit a two-run homerun to close the gap to 6-5, and things were looking up for the A's. However, Shutdown Inning #2 went about as well as the first one, as Milone gave up another homerun to Cuddyer to give the Rockies an 8-5 lead.
Clearly not wanted us to suffer another inning of Milone, Bob Melvin replaced him in the fifth with Jim Miller, who kept the Rockies off the board for two innings. The Pride of the 7-0-7 (Gomes) brought the A's closer with a homerun in the sixth, and the A's looked as if they would really get back in it during the seventh. After Pennington reached on an error, Crisp walked, bringing Jemile Weeks to the plate. I never say this, but I think he should have tried to bunt for a base hit with the speedy runners on base. Instead, he very nearly grounded into a double-play. Collin Cowgill singled to score Pennington, but after Smith and Gomes grounded out, the A's were only able to close the gap to 8-7.
Jerry Blevins pitched the seventh and the eighth, keeping the A's at the one-run deficit, and the A's came up in the ninth, needing one to tie. Coco singled to lead off the inning, and Weeks decided that was the time to drag bunt. He nearly beat it out, but the sacrifice worked (not that tying the game would have helped the A's at Coors; they needed to score the multiple runs when they did). Knowing that the only way to win is to use the one weapon that the A's have, Coco stole third, not even drawing the throw. Cowgill hit a laser sacrifice fly to tie the game (Coco barely beat the throw home), but the A's weren't done. Seth Smith came so close to hitting the ball out, but settled for a double, and after Reddick was intentionally walked (for the match-up), Brandon Inge doubled both runners in, giving the A's the 10-8 lead.
Ryan Cook, helped greatly by a double-play, got out of the ninth, and earned his second save this season, in as many days. This was a win to savor; it was a sure loss at many points, but the A's rallied in admirable fashion, considering the big blow of the game was losing Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning after tweaking his hamstring running to first. However, his replacement was basically the hero of the game, so the loss stings a little bit less. Let's hope he is day-to-day.
We do it again tomorrow! 12:10PM start.