Well, I'm not sure if Milone agreed to trade the textbook win for the more exciting walk-off win, but I'm sure the Oakland fans who were doing their best to drown out the Yankees' fans didn't mind. After eight innings of watching the A's fail to add on a single insurance run to their slim two-run lead, the fans could only watch in horror as Jerry Blevins and a tired Ryan Cook both gave up solo homeruns (and at least they were solo, right?) to send the tied game to the bottom of the ninth. But luckily, tied ninth innings are the strength of the 2012 A's; they had no problem with winning the game, and ruining another headset in the process with Gatorade and whipped cream. Today's walk-off hero? Brandon Moss; with a ninth-inning, game-winning, walk-off single.
The game's real hero, who singlehandedly broke the Yankees 43rd-game-in-a-row-3-or-more-run-streak? That honor belongs to Tommy Milone, who should have collected his 10th win today. The A's starting pitchers might just have to accept that the team likes celebrating at home plate much more than the traditional, boring wins. So we'll have to pay special attention to a seven-inning, six-hit, ten strikeout performance against the New York Yankees' stacked lineup in print. Kudos, Milone; this game was really all yours.
That being said, nobody frustrated quite like the A's hitters tonight, who did not hit a homerun. With the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, who went 4-5, Josh Reddick, who went 3-5, and Brandon Moss' two hits, the rest of the lineup made all of us wonder if the A's would pull this out. The A's left the bases loaded in the first, runners at second and third with one out in the fourth, a lead-off double in the fifth, the bases loaded in the seventh, and a one-out triple in the eighth. They would badly need insurance runs, and failed to collect even one. A Coco Crisp triple and a Jemile Weeks sac fly in the third would score the A's first run, and back-to-back doubles by Inge and Moss would score the second run in the fourth. That would be all until the ninth. Plenty of criticism was heaped on Melvin during these innings; he had Suzuki bunt with runners on first and second (since Suzuki hits like a pitcher, I'm not all that opposed to it), and he never used Chris Carter, even in must-score situations (Moss with the bases loaded and two outs; Suzuki with the desperately important run on third base with one out; he failed to score it, of course), but I'm sure he was thinking about Moss' and Suzuki's defense; honestly, the A's did have the lead. I do worry about Carter sitting on the bench much longer, but there is more baseball to be played this weekend. (And as long as I'm in the complain-y paragraph, what is up with our TV announcers? Dial it in much? I could easily tell that Swisher was hurt on that play; they acted surprised when he left the game; and no, Glen, a homeplate umpire calls strikes, not check swings, and our manager is Bob Melvin, not Geren. /rant)
Meanwhile, Milone absolutely dominated the Yankees for his seven innings, walking no one (Hint to the next two A's pitchers: This is one of the keys to beating the Yankees.) He was helped out of a jam by an outfield assist by Reddick in the fourth, as Reddick threw out Teixeira trying to go first to third on an A-rod single. Dude, read a scouting report; that's just insulting. Hilariously (now; it wasn't then), Jerry Blevins threw two pitches and allowed more runs than Milone did in his 110. Russell Martin--who would have been the Yankees' player of the game had the game gone the other way, due to the sheer volume of blocked balls in the dirt with A's runners consistently on third base--homered off Blevins to cut the A's lead in half in the eighth, and Robinson Cano homered off the second pitch that Ryan Cook threw to tie the game. Panic ensued in the game thread, but there was underlying hope and excitement for the walk-off that everyone knew was coming.
Reddick struck out to open the inning, and junk-throwing Eppley came in to face Cespedes. Cespedes absolutely crushed a single up the middle, and after a tough at-bat, Jonny Gomes hit the ball softly to Derek Jeter, where it took a weird bounce for a magical base-hit, because that's how the A's are rolling right now. Brandon Moss came up and was dealt the best pitch of the whole inning...and he didn't miss it. He smashed a single out to right field and Cespedes scored the winning run. Pandemonium ensued; Celebration played, and we notched off another walk-off win. The A's find themselves 5 games over .500, dancing with Miss .527, a half-game out of the Wild Card, 6.5 games out of the division lead, and have already earned a split with the Yankees, with two more games to go. Here's to Jarrod Parker and a potential series win with another good game tomorrow. Game time at 6:05; if you aren't watching A's baseball right now, you are missing out, because it's as good as it gets.