On this draft day, for once, it was the game that took precedence. With the A's in a budding pennant race with the Rangers, it was other teams whose fanbases were more wrapped up in that than the game, and the season at hand. That doesn't stop us, though, as I know many of you had MLB Network on the TV with MLB.tv showing the game on the laptop (or vice versa).
Straily retired the first 7 White Sox he faced, and then allowed a single to Gordon Beckham with one out in the 3rd. After a force out at 2nd off the bat of Tyler Flowers, Straily had two outs and then allowed an Alejandro De Aza double to runners at 2nd and 3rd. Unfortunately, the BABIP Gods did not smile down on Straily after that. Straily made a decent pitch down in the zone, but Alexei Ramirez used his toothpick arms to punch it into CF for two-run bloop single. After that, his toothpick legs propelled him to steal second, and then take 3rd on a wild pitch through Derek Norris' legs. Clearly rattled, Straily got inside on Alex Rios, but also left it up, and Alex Rios dunked a single in front of Chris Young to make it 3-0 White Sox.
The A's would answer back in the next half inning, though. Cespedes took Quintana deep to left-center, a no-doubter as soon as it left the bat to make it 3-1. In the 5th, Nate Freiman led off with a single and stayed at 1st until Norris - swinging at ball four, unfortunately - hit a pitch off his shoetops to 3rd to move Freiman to second. Midwest native Adam Rosales, surely with some family in attendance, then doubled past a diving Conor Gillaspie to score Freiman and cut the lead to 3-2.
The Sox would also answer back, but not before a pivotal "shutdown" inning (albeit not in the way the A's would have drawn it up.) A leadoff walk to Gordon Beckham (really?) and a double ripped into the LCF gap by Tyler Flowers put runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. De Aza would single in one run to bring the White Sox lead back to two runs at 4-2. A Ramirez pop up would be the first out, and then Straily walked Alex Rios to load the bases for Adam Dunn. Dunn Dunn Dunnnn...
Dunn would hit a line drive to Reddick in RF, and the White Sox apparently did not bother to read any scouting report on Reddick's arm before the game. They sent Flowers from 3rd, and predictably - despite his best efforts to truck Norris - Flowers was gunned out on a perfect one-hop throw from Reddick. It was the most pivotal play of the game, as had the White Sox scored, that probably would have ended Straily's night and changed the way Melvin played it from that point forward. In the 6th, with one out, Cespedes would notch his second 2-HR game of the road trip, this time taking Quintana out to right-center, and bringing the A's back within 1. Straily would shutdown the White Sox in order in the 6th and their half of the 7th, settling down relatively nicely after clearly not being as sharp as he was in is previous three starts.
The rest of the A's runs were scored by a show of power. In the top of the 7th, Reddick launched his 1st HR in 30 games, itself a no doubt shot halfway up the bleachers in the right field power alley to tie the score at 4-all. Sean Doolittle would come on in the 8th, and allowed a hard-hit double to Rios, but managed to wriggle out of it, striking out Dunn on a wicked 3-2 slider and getting Paul Konerko to groundout to Donaldson at 3B. To me, he clearly was aiming lower in the zone in this outing. He didn't allow any runs, though, so that's progress.
The A's were set down in order in the 9th, and Jerry Blevins came on in the 9th to preserve the tie. After allowing a leadoff single to Dayan Viciedo (why would anyone throw that guy a first pitch fastball?), Gillaspie bunted but Donaldson made a textbook charge from 3B and throw to 2nd to get the lead runner for the first out (and barely missing a double play with Gillaspie not running hard down the line). A Beckham groundout to Rosales, and three straight called strikes by Tyler Flowers capped off a bad night for him, and took the game into free baseball territory. Matt Thornton came out with the White Sox bullpen thin from their 16 inning history-making marathon with the Mariners last night, and quickly got 2 outs. In stepped Rosales however, and he would give the A's the lead for good. He launched an inside fastball well into left field, keeping it fair by about 15 feet. With the A's in the lead, Grant Balfour came in to extend his saves streak. After allowing a leadoff single to De Aza, Ramirez sacrificed him to 2nd - an odd move, all things considered -- Balfour got Rios to groundout to Rosales for the second out. After getting ahead of Dunn 0-2, Balfour left one high and away, and Dunn extended his arms, sending it soaring to left field.... about 3 feet too short. Cespedes hauled it in Rickey Henderson-snatch catch style to end it and cap a comeback victory.
And that's four straight against the White Sox. Tomorrow, the A's will attempt to secure at least a series tie. Jarrod Parker will also make his second straight start versus the White Sox, and will be faced by Chris Sale. Game tomorrow starts at 5:10 PPM PST