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Game #113: V for Valencia, V for Victory

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Walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th by Danny Valencia demonstrates, yet again, that the A's may now have an authentic, Green collar clean-up hitter!

Welcome to Pie, Danny!
Welcome to Pie, Danny!
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Today's game was a game of thrones...as in Kings...as in K's.  Chris Bassitt was looking for his second win of the season, but a no-decision was the best he could do.  And yet that doesn't come close to telling the whole story.   Bassitt definitely won the game "King of the Hill" today.  Pitching 6.2 innings and giving up only 3 hits and 1 earned run (which shouldn't have been an earned run), he walked 2 and struck out TEN!  Yes, 10.  Most of those K's on a nasty curve.  Double-digits for King Bassitt.  Maybe we need our own King's Court!  Ok, knowing the ending of this story, I'm definitely getting ahead of myself, but it sure is fun to be excited!  At least in this moment!

That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh:  Perfect song for the rally in the 8th as Phegley walked and Semien put it down the right side to advance him to 3rd.  Up comes left-handed batter Billy Burns with no outs.  Infielders play in, no-brainer on their part given Billy's propensity for ground balls. There's a runner on 3rd.  First pitch is handled in true Burns style: He goes opposite way on a cutter to place the ball in short left field for an RBI hit.  No dirt on THAT ball!  Nice shift there infield.  Our leadoff man can do it all including putting it past you—shift or no shift.  Woot, woot.  Exciting.  3-2 A's with no outs!

With runners on 1st and 2nd, Coco—his orange (aka bleached) hair poking out of the back of his helmet—hits into an infield-fly situation.  One out, runners still on first and second and Josh Reddick at the plate.  Reddick.  Solid Reddick.  He doubles down the left field line, and Semien scores as Burns advances to third.  But Burns gets no farther as Vogt strikes out and Lawrie lines out to center.   Man-oh-man.  The life of an A's fan as we head to the top of the 9th with a narrow 3-2 lead.

In true A's fashion, no fan can relax, especially when Mujica is coming in. Yes, it's true.  We have no closer. Mujica's first save yesterday does not make him a closer.  And he proved that point today.  Coming into the 9th he gives up a hit to Gomez and a hit to Lowrie (who looked like he was taking batting practice). Then Colby Rasmus, who is behind in the count 0-2 just waits a bit as Mujica turns it into 3-2 count quickly with ugly pitches like a splitter in the dirt.  Then boom.  Yes, boom!  Rasmus tees off and takes one over the wall in right field with a 3 RBI homer.  4-3 Astros.  I'm so, so sorry, Chris Bassitt.  You had a FABULOUS game only to have it ruined by that "dreadful, dreadful bullpen" (Susan Slusser, pre-game interview, 8/9/15).

All of that said, we will not go gently into this good night! No Sir!  Bottom of the 9th, Mark Cahna in for Butler (who subbed for Davis in the 7th).  Base hit.  Josh Phegley then gets a base hit and advances to second on a Jason Castro passed ball.  Marcus Semien strikes out on a hard slider (going 1 for 4 on the day), and Billy Burns is intentionally walked.  Coco then gives up the second out with a fly ball to left field.

And then he returns again.  No cape.  No Spiderman outfit.  Just Reddick.  Solid Reddick.  A hero with an RBI double in the 8th comes through again with an RBI single in the 9th.  A hard shot that bounced off of Luke Gregerson and was unplayable by first baseman Marwin Gonzalez.  Tie score as Cahna crosses the plate and Burns advances to second.  Yes, tie score and two outs in the bottom of the 9th.  After the game Reddick said it was luck.  Sorry, Josh; watch the video.  That was a good, hard shot and a legitimate infield single.

And then Danny Valencia gets in the box: V for Valencia, V for Victory.  Danny Valencia, who has been involved in 6 of the 13 runs scored by the A's since he was picked up from Toronto, delivers with a walk-off base hit to left field.  Pie.  Gatorade.  It's all waiting for him as he delivers yet again for Oaktown and puts the nail in the Astros' coffin in this 5-4 win.

That said, none of this should take away from Houston's efforts today.  Shortstop Correa, all of 20, is impressive.  A double that tied the game was had on a slider contacted up in the zone.  Pitcher Mike Fiers held Oakland to just 1 run on five hits as he struck out 4 batters with varied pitches:  Splitter, fast ball, curve.  But the real Ace of the day is Chris Bassitt who, in just five innings, gave up only 1 hit all the while striking out 9 and retiring 11 in a row.  It was only when Correa doubled on a slider he left up in the zone in the 6th that got him rattled and led to a Young visit to the mound.

And, unfortunately, Jose Altuve continues his O.co hitting streak with hits in 20 straight games in Oakland.  But hey, at least Phegley gunned him stealing in the 8th.

Monday, the A's hop on a plane and head to Toronto. Probable starters for Tuesday:  Kendall Graveman taking on right-handed pitcher Drew Hutchison in Toronto for a 4:07 start.