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Gutsy Move By Melvin Pays Off, Donaldson Rains Supreme

The 5-day forecast: Heavy rains and wins.
The 5-day forecast: Heavy rains and wins.
Ezra Shaw

Final Score: A's 5, Yankees 4

There's a tenet in baseball: Never put the winning run on base. There's also another tenet: Sometimes, listen to your gut instead of your tenets. With the A's leading 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th, Grant Balfour got the first 2 outs but then surrendered a single to Brett Gardner, followed by a wild pitch. Even though the count was 1-1 to Robinson Cano, Melvin ordered an intentional walk to Cano. Visions of Cano flicking a walk-off HR to the short porch in RF gave way to visions of how many holes Vernon Wells has in his swing. Balfour found one, blowing a 2-2 fastball by Wells and giving the A's a series win in the Bronx.

All of this was made possible by Josh Donaldson's "fair or foul...FAIR!" blast in the top of the 8th, breaking a 4-4 tie. It was the A's 3rd HR of the day on an afternoon where the A's went 0 for 9 with RISP, 6 of those failures coming after leadoff doubles in the 2nd and 9th.

Dan Straily did a great job today. Through 5 IP, thanks to a fastball with more life than we've seen at times and a sharp slider, Straily allowed just one run. Meanwhile, a solo HR by Luke Montz gave the A's a 2-1 lead in the 4th, and a 2-run HR by Cespedes made it 4-1, off of Andy Pettitte, who looked like he was pitching away from contact and wound up throwing 100 pitches in 5 wobbly innings.

In the bottom of the 6th, Bob Melvin went to Jerry Blevins with 2 on and one out even though Straily was at just 85 pitches. Melvin wanted Blevins against Ichiro, but Ichiro doubled to make it 4-2 and after Blevins struck out Jayson Nix Lyle Overbay, following a long battle, lined a soft single to CF to tie it 4-4.

Then came the rain, Donaldson style, amidst scoreless relief from Doolittle (7th), Cook (8th), and Balfour (9th), with Balfour converting his 23rd save in a row dating back to last season. And he did it leaving the winning run at 1B. By design.