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Game #32: Lowrie’s Walk-Off Homerun Defeats Angels 3-2

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

This is the third walk-off win in a row for the Athletics. The last time this occurred was in 2004, the same year the Kielty and current bench coach Mark Kotsay had back-to-back walk off home runs.

And tonight it was all Jed Lowrie. Hitting his second home run of the game and batting from the left side, Lowrie lambasted the Angels and dealt the loss to pitcher Deolis Guerra. Lowrie has extended his hitting streak to six games and is batting .338 over the last 17 games.

The first inning did not make it look as if we were heading for another walk-off, however. Graveman struggled in the first and gave up two runs. So it started off badly but ended well. Graveman, coming off a terrible previous start in Minnesota, gave up a leadoff hit to Yunel Escobar. Although he was able to get the next two batters, cleanup hitter Luis Valbuena took it 411 feet over the center field wall. While Graveman exited the inning behind 2-0, he also added a hit batter, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who ended up exiting the game after the inning, replaced by Danny Espinosa who went to second and shifted Pennington over to short. Not a good start for Graveman.

It didn’t get much better in the second inning when Ben Revere doubled down the third base line as he led off the second inning. Graveman then walked former Athletic Cliff Pennington. Martin Maldonado flirted with small ball on a failed bunt and ended up going down on strikes. Yunel Escobar, in at-bat #2, grounded to Lowrie who turned the double play by throwing to Rosales who threw to Alonso.

Settling in, Graveman’s third inning was controlled. Kole Calhoun struck out swinging. Albert Pujols singled a sharp line drive into center field for a base hit. Graveman was able to use changeups to get Luis Valbuena to fly out to left and then struck out Danny Espinosa to end the third.

The A’s offense in the first couple of innings was non-existent. For the first 6 batters—Khris Davis, Yonder Alonso and Stephan Vogt all struck out. Trevor Plouffe earned a “mental error” double as Plouffe’s short fly into right fell in as Cliff Pennington called the ball, backed off and then watched it drop as Revere backed off having been waived away. Defensive miscue = double. Definite mental error by Pennington but no error in the books as no one touched the ball. Jaff Decker then moved Plouffe to third on a sacrifice bunt. Adam Rosales was then called out on strikes on a slider that was WAY out of the zone. (Maybe this is why there’s so much talk of someday going to a robot ump at home plate.) Either way, the third ended with Matt Joyce lining out to right field. Joyce, by the way, is hitting a buck ninety on the season, a bit confusing as to why he would be placed in the leadoff spot.

In the fourth, Graveman continued to settle in, retiring the side in short order. On his first pitch to start the A’s half of the 4th, Lowrie homered to put the A’s on the board. Fun fact from MLB: All three home runs this season for Lowrie came from the left side. Fifty of his 70 career homeruns have been from the left side.

After Lowrie, home plate umpire Ed Hickox made a second case for a robot behind the plate as he called Khris Davis out on the same pitch that was outside to Adam Rosales. Both pitches had Bob Melvin shaking his head in amazement, not something we see often. Alonso grounded out and Healy was strikeout victim #6 to end the fourth.

Graveman gave up his first two hits in the fifth, one of which was Pujols’ second hit of the game. Coming out unscathed, he was rewarded by a Trevor Plouffe homer into the camera wells in center field to tie the game. Adam Rosales followed with a double down the third base line but was left stranded. But at the top of the 6th, the game began again with a tie score, and Jaff Decker worked hard to make that happen; he nabbed a deep fly in a somewhat awkward one-legged hop into the padded wall. With two outs, Graveman then gave up a double #2 to Ben Revere who again took it down the third base line. Luckily, Pennington, on a 3-0 count, swung at a changeup out of the zone. It must have thrown him off because he watched the next two strikes and went down looking. The sixth inning for the Athletics gave Nolasco strikeouts #8 (Davis) and #9 (Alonso). Score still 2-2.

Nolasco began the 7th with 82 pitches and a tie score, 9 strikouts under his belt. Ryon Healy grounded out. Vogt, whose first two at-bats were strikeouts, picked up his first base hit of the game. As Plouffe battled with Nolasco, the Angel’s bullpen was active and, rightly so. By the time Nolasco was done with Plouffe, a strikeout on a slider, he’d racked up an additional 15 pitches. Decker, whose first at-bat was a sacrifice bunt, grounds out to an unassisted out at first base on Nalasco’s 103rd pitch of the game. David Hernandez replaced Nolasco in the bottom of the 8th. Nalasco: 7IP, 5 hits, 2 earned runs and 10 strikeouts.

Graveman, after 95 pitches, was replaced in the 8th by Ryan Madson whose curve was bending well. Pujols, his first opponent, went down swinging to start the inning. Successful on the changeup to Pujols, Madson used the same to get Valbuena to ground out to Lowrie for the second out of the inning. Espinosa then became Madson’s second strikeout victim. Graveman: 7IP, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 hit batsman, and 6 strikeouts.

Uneventful for the A’s, the 8th passed quickly with Adam Rosales’ flyout to lead off the 8th. Matt Joyce followed with a can of corn to Cameron Maybin in center field. Jed Lowrie concluded the 8th quickly as he went down looking.

Santiago Casilla, who received the win in yesterday’s walk-off win, started well by striking out Cameron Maybin. Ben Revere picked up the third hit of the game, driving one literally right through Casilla’s legs for a single to center field. In for Mike Trout as he nurses his hamstring, Revere has had a great night. With one out and a runner on first, Cliff Pennington slapped a shot to Khris Davis in left for the second out of the inning. Maldonado almost manufactured a single by laying down a bunt on the third base side with Plouffe playing more deep; Plouffe made an excellent throw to Alonso for the third out in the 9th.

Deolis Guerra replaced Hernandez to take the hill in the bottom of the 9th. Khris Davis struck out and was followed by a Yonder Alonso ground out. Healy, 0-3 on the evening, took it to the warning track in an almost repeat of last night. Alas, ball caught by Ben Revere in left to end the inning and take us into extra innings that transferred the rubber to Liam Hendriks who retired the side: ground ball, fly to center, fly to center.

Guerra retired the A’s in the 10th, and Liam Henriks returned for the 11th. Luis Valbuena singled to lead off for the Angels. Danny Espinosa tried to bunt the runner over and popped out to Hendriks. Cameron Maybin reaches on a ground ball to Adam Rosales who looked like he was playing hot potato. But, with a diving stop and toss to Jed Lowrie to get Maybin, the Athletics had two outs. Cliff Pennington then flew out to Khris Davis and the Athletics headed to the dugout. Since Jefry Marte replaced Valbuena on the base paths, he remained in the game at first.

In the bottom of the 11th, Adam Rosales led off against Guerra who remained on the mound for his third inning of work. Unfortunately a high fly ball to Revere in left led to the first out. Matt Joyce, with his now .187 batting average, popped up to shallow center to jog back to the dugout 0-5 on the night. Two outs. Jed Lowrie, 1-4 on the night with that 1 being a homerun, again batted from the left side and with a sweet swing on a ball left up in the zone; the homerun trot ensued. Celebrate good times, c’mon!

Athletics 3, Angels 2. Liam Hendricks gets the win tonight. Here are the box scores: