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Game #127: Vogt Sonny Electrifies Fuld House as A's Win Opener

You want suspense? Drama? Nail-biting action until the very last pitch? Then you've come to the right place. The opening game of the fight-to-the-death A's/Angels series lived up to its billing as the A's fought all night to put 5 runs on the board while using Sonny Gray's eight and a third innings and a Doolittle save to blow past the Angels to close the gap to one game in the West.

Thearon W. Henderson

The most important thing to take away from the A's game tonight is that the A's won. Starting the night two games back, the A's refused to fall any further behind, as they rallied with all they had to win tonight by the score of 5-3, leaving the bases loaded for the Angels in the ninth inning as Sonny Gray nearly pitched a complete game, and Sean Doollittle fought through his entire appearance to shut down the Angels and claw the A's back to within one game of the American League West title.

Although the offense managed to score another five runs in this contest, providing just enough for the win, the real hero of the game was Sonny Gray, pitching into the ninth inning allowing six hits and just three runs; two of them coming on just the two hits.

The game started out on the worst possible note for the A's; just the second batter of the game for the Angels, and to be fair; it was Mike Trout, but it ended in a home run; the Angels first hit gave them a 1-0 lead. It could have been for all the world another disappointing loss for the A's, but they refused to let the ghosts of the past weeks haunt them, and they flipped the script early. Coco Crisp stepped up to the plate in the first A's at-bat and immediately erased Trout's home run by hitting a game-tying home run of his own. The home run was big for some many reasons; it tied the game, it brought the crowd back into the game, and it gave Gray the confidence that his offense would pick him up. And that would be all he needed; minus two pitches tonight, Gray turned in a stellar performance.

It would get slightly worse before it got better; the only other big hit Gray gave up was the solo home run by Josh Hamilton in the top of the fourth inning (after he had likely taken strike 3) to extend the Angels' lead to 2-1. At the time, the frustrating line score showed the A's at 6 hits (Crisp, Gentry, Norris, Callaspo, Parrino, Freiman), while the Angels just had the two, but the A's still were down in the game. The top of the fifth evened everything out, and also saved the game for Gray.

Gray started the fifth inning with back-to-back singles by Freese and Navarro to put two on with no one out. After a sacrifice bunt by Hank Conger brought up the smoking-hot Kole Calhoun, it looked as if the Angels would extend their lead. But something finally went the A's way. Calhoun smoked a ball up the middle, but it happened to be exactly where Andy Parrino was playing; he caught the ball and stepped on second, a fraction of a second before the runner could get back, and just like that, the inning was over.

The A's took that as a good sign. With one out, Coco Crisp hit a ground-rule double and Craig Gentry walked to put two on. Josh Donaldson hit into what could have been a double-play, but the Angels, in a rare misstep, got the first out at second, but threw the ball away at first, allowing the tying run to score. The A's couldn't take the lead in the fifth, but they would score again in the sixth. Callaspo singled with one out in the sixth and I yelled at Sam Fuld to hit a triple. Which he did. His triple scored not only the runner from first (and Callaspo, to boot), but also himself as he scored on a shallow sac fly by Parrino to give the A's the 4-2 lead.

This lead would be extended by a IBISV (I believe in Stephen Vogt) home run to run the score to 5-2, and despite Gray leaving a one-out baserunner in the ninth and Doolittle putting two other runners on with two outs to load the bases, Doolittle would still record two strikeouts for his two outs, and for the maximum dramatic effect, the Angels would leave the bases loaded and lose by two.

This win cannot be understated for the A's, as it closed the gap in the AL West to a single game, instead of the dreaded three, and it gave the A's--and Sonny Gray--maybe a little lift and momentum going into the rest of the series. We do it all again tomorrow night; Jon Lester will be taking on C.J. Wilson at 6:05PM. Rock the Coliseum. Pack the seats. We'll be back here with all the action; LET'S GO OAK-LAND!