First and foremost, this was an interesting game and that alone was a victory for A's fans who lately have had to endure too many games that lacked twists or turns. Actually, scratch that -- first and foremost, the A's won the game to stay ahead of the Royals in the first wild card and finally put 2 games between Oakland and the second wild card. At least for a day, the A's have some momentum.
For the better part of 4 hours this game had the feel of the past 2 months. Of course on a day the A's scored 6 runs by the 6th inning, Scott Kazmir would be tagged for 6 runs. Naturally, with Oakland leading 6-4 light hitting Freddy Galvis, who tormented the A's with the tie-breaking HR yesterday, would rip an RBI triple and score on a base hit to tie the game. I guess it's fitting that Josh Reddick swung and missed on the last play of the day -- his attempt to "pie" Donaldson.
But today was not "more of the same"; it was a huge grind-it-out win. Patient but also hitterish, the A's erased a 1-0 deficit with a 3-run bottom of the 1st fueled by an RBI single from Adam Dunn, a double off the glove of the stumbling, reaching, diving-ish Grady Sizemore, and a strange sac fly when Reddick hit a short fly ball to LF and Dunn tagged anyway scoring ahead of Sizemore's one-hop throw to the cut-off man.
As the game wore on it became largely about walks and HBPs. A.J. Burnett walked 6 batters in 4⅓ IP and by game's end Phillies pitchers had walked 9 (the last one intentionally), hit 2 (including Jed Lowrie, who left the game with a foot contusion), but Kazmir simply could not hold the leads he was given.
Leading 3-1, Kazmir served up a 2-run double to Marlon Byrd in the 3rd to knot the game at 3-3. The A's reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the 3rd without the benefit of a hit: 3 walks and a HBP, the last walk coming to Geovany Soto with the bases loaded. However, in the top of the 4th Kazmir gave that run back too courtesy of a Carlos Ruiz RBI double.
Oakland broke the 4-4 tie on Soto's 2-run double in the 5th only to see Kazmir give those 2 back in the 6th on the Galvis triple and Ben Revere's subsequent game-tying single to LF.
So it was 6-6 going to the bottom of the 6th with both starting pitchers out, and as the bullpens took over the offenses quieted down. Or at least failed to score. Luke Gregerson survived a leadoff double in the 8th, then Justin DeFratus survived Nick Punto's one-out triple in the 9th.
Bob Melvin made some questionable moves today, from leaving Kazmir in a couple batters longer than he could have to pinch-hitting Alberto Callaspo (always worth questioning), but he also made one key smart move: After Sean Doolittle fired a 1-2-3 top of the 9th on 14 pitches he sent Doolittle back out to pitch a second inning and Doolittle responded with a 1-2-3 top of the 10th: Two strikeouts and then a heart-stopping fly ball to the warning track in LF.
Then came the bottom of the 10th. Crisp popped up. Freiman, who singled as a pinch hitter in the 8th, singled again in the 10th, this time off a RHP (Miguel Gonzalez). Billy Burns pinch ran -- or as it turned out, pinch jogged. Up stepped Donaldson and it was "swung on, gone" to CF. A "no doubt," drop the bat and admire it, bomb.
Glorious, glorious rain.