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Game #161: A's somehow win thirteen inning marathon

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

I'm so surprised. I completely expected the A's to get walked off in the 20th inning. I don't know what to do.

The A's have not been good in extra innings affairs. The A's have not been good in close games, which extra inning games are by definition. When the A's scored exactly one run in the ninth, it seemed like a recipe for another unique 2015 snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory thing.

But the A's won! They've won three games in a row! We won our last series!

Man, just take those moral victories where they come. There haven't been a lot recently.

The game even started out on a positive (but, thankfully, familiar) note: Danny Valencia, a man who's been an absolute revelation for the A's in the second half, hit another homer. This one was of the three-run variety. Valencia has been easily the A's best player since his acquisition mid-season, playing at what would be a 5 WAR, 35 HR pace over a full season. This guy was DFA'd! The Blue Jays just... gave him to us!

If there's one good thing the A's awful season bestowed upon us, it was the ability to get Danny Valencia - because of the way waivers work, we had to be the worst team in the AL to get a shot at him. And we were! Way to go, guys.

So, 3-0 in the first inning. The A's scored again in the third inning after a walk-single-walk-groundout mini-rally. Sean Nolin had the chance to hold the win for us. Unfortunately, the present incarnation of Sean Nolin is not a very good pitcher.

I've talked about him before – hernia surgery this season left his mechanics a mess and took a good 5 MPH off his fastball. The 86 MPH fastball just doesn't cut it in the MLB for 99% of pitchers, and Nolin doesn't have the quality control or stuff to compensate. With a 91 MPH fastball, he's a good #4 option. With an 86 MPH fastball, he's batting practice.

The third inning is where things fell apart for him a bit. Robinson Cano, A's nemesis, destroyed a changeup to hit a 3-run homer. That brought the Mariners within a run. That's all the damage that Sean Nolin allowed in his five innings, but it was a major blow.

Daniel Coulombe, a new face with an impossible-to-spell name, came in to pitch the 6th, and the wheels promptly fell off. It could've been worse, considering he loaded the bases with nobody out, but a run-scoring double play and a RBI single put the Mariners ahead 5-4.

This seemed like a familiar script for the A's to follow: an early rally takes the lead, the combination of a bad starting pitching performance and bad bullpen gives up the lead, the A's might tease in the 9th but always lose. That's familiar, right? We've watched that game a bunch of times.

Today, the A's showed a little bit more fight. After some brilliant bullpen pitching from Fernando Rodriguez and Fernando Abad, Billy Burns got on base in the 9th. Brett Lawrie drove him in with a sac fly, and we got bonus meaningless baseball! Woo.

Really, nothing happened in extra innings until the13th.  The A's went down in order a couple of times, the Mariners did the same. Pat Venditte was absolutely tremendous, pitching three perfect innings with three strikeouts. He was really the hero of the game. Given the bullpen performances we're used to, this was huge. And luckily, he got the well-deserved win after...

Marcus Semien hit his fifteenth HR of the year in the 13th inning. That's the most by an A's shortstop since Bobby Crosby (remember arguing about him? Good times). Say what you will about his (rapidly improving) defense, but the guy can hit. That homer pushes him up to a 99 wRC+ – exactly league average. From your shortstop, that's fantastic. In all, he's been one of the better parts of the year, and he's essentially a rookie. I really expect big things from the guy going forward.

Oh, also, he broke the Oakland record for errors by a shortstop. He's really lucky his late-inning heroism distracted from that, in retrospect.

Felix Doubront (???) picked up the save (!?!) in a perfect 13th inning to finish the game off. That was weird.

So, three game winning streak to finish the year off. We're exactly one win away from our 69th win. Even if we lose tomorrow, we end up with a .420 winning percentage. This season was totally worth it.