Happy Friday to you and welcome to a Friday night recap in which the A's won a game! Unlike last night's game, this was wasn't sloppy, and didn't register a single blown save to boot! Well, unless you count Sean Manaea himself, who was spotted the equivalent of a grand slam by the time he started the third inning. He gave three back in the third, the tying run in the fifth, and the go-ahead run in the sixth. He exited the game down 5-4 and despite the A's early second inning outburst, they didn't score again for Manaea.
Tonight's game was brought to you by the letters "M" and "C" for Matt Chapman, who was the star of the game on both sides of the diamond tonight, but before he was allowed to shine, the A's first had to turn an early lead into a late deficit, as the Friday night game devolved into an all-too-familiar pattern. I hardly know how to recap a win; for so many Friday nights, the A's have found a way to lose early, lose late, lead early and lose late; you name it. But not tonight. It wasn't pie; the A's won the game in the eighth and used Santiago Casilla for a save in the ninth, but it was every bit as exciting as last night's win.
The star of tonight's fairy tale was very clearly Matt Chapman, and like all good stories, things had to go wrong before they could go right.
The game started out in the best way possible for the A's; they wasted no time in putting four early runs on the board. Khris Davis walked to lead off the second inning and took second on a wild pitch. Yonder Alonso, the A's hottest hitter, was also walked to put two on. A Ryon Healy strikeout brought up Stephen Vogt with one out, and he doubled in the A's first run, just missing a home run. With runners on second and third, Chapman had his first chance of the night. He grounded to third, appearing to beat the throw to the base; he was called safe on the play. However, replay overturned his very first hit; I like to picture the A's dugout throwing the ball they saved back on the field in disgust, but replay couldn't overturn Chapman's first RBI, and the A's doubled their lead at 2-0.
We can't overlook the other new guys; Jaycob Brugman singled in Vogt for the 3-0 A's lead, and after a Matt Joyce single, Chad Pinder singled in the A's fourth run. A 4-0 lead with the A's best pitcher on the mound? What could possibly go wrong on this Friday night?
Enter Aaron Judge, the Yankees' phenom who is tearing up the league up on side and down the other. The only way to pitch to him is with no one on base, a rule not heeded by Manaea. With two on in the third, just a mere half inning from the A's offensive outburst, Judge came to the plate with two on and crushed a home run deep into the Oakland night, cutting the lead to 4-3. Manaea struck out the side in the fourth, but the Yankees stacked a double and a single to tie the game in the fifth, and it held up under replay. The damage actually could have been worse thanks to a suddenly tight strike zone, but Manaea struck out two more to help end the inning. He would finish the day with 7 strikeouts.
In addition to Judge's bomb, our very own Chris Carter took a shot at the A's to open the sixth inning, giving the Yankees their first lead of the night, at 5-4. However, a notable play in the sixth included Chapman's diving stop at third and throwing with nary a bounce, a perfect strike to first to nail a runner in a terrific overall play. Someone called Josh Smith allowed another run in the seventh, putting the A's even further behind at 6-4.
And there was the conflict of the story. The village was in trouble; a hero was needed. And much like last night, in every inning that a run was needed, one appeared. Matt Chapman struck out to start the A's half of the seventh inning. With one out, pinch-hitter Rajai Davis did his job, and walked to bring up the tying run. A Matt Joyce single sent the runners to first and third, and with one out, Chad Pinder strode to the plate and promptly lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring the A's closer; trailing only 6-5. Jed Lowrie looked for a moment that he may have tied the game, but the Yankees had him positioned perfectly for the third out.
Coulombe pitched the eighth inning, and unlike every reliever this series so far, did not give up a run. Moreover, because he was the pitcher of record, should the A's come back under his watch, he would earn the win. I don't want to spoil anything, but chicken dinner for Daniel!
The eighth inning started out innocuously enough; Khris Davis--after fouling off pitches that in his heyday he'd be sending over the fence--popped up and the A's were down to their final five outs. Yonder Alonso walked, bringing up Healy, who came oh-so-very-close to knocking one out, and to add insult to injury, his ground-rule double kept the runner from scoring, so the A's were left with runners at second and third and one out. Without blinking, the Yankees walked Stephen Vogt to load the bases. Matt Chapman stepped into the box, probably muttering "I am not a pitcher" under his breath or some such. He was awarded two awful strikes; the first one could be argued, I suppose, but the second pitch was a ball all night, except to put him in an 0-2 hole. That's not fair to a rookie! He never had a chance! Would the A's leave 'em loaded?
They would not.
Chapman's first major league hit will go into the books as a bases-loaded, two-RBI single to wipe out the A's 6-5 deficit and give them a 7-6 lead. They couldn't add on as replay overturned Rajai Davis' safe at first call, and prevented the A's from adding insurance, but one run was enough.
First career hit: ✅— #Voteland 5 x Daily (@Athletics) June 17, 2017
First career RBI: ✅
Go-ahead RBI vs. Yankees: ✅
Have a day @mattchap6!#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/6dr5eSQ3TG
Santiago Casilla struck out the side in the ninth, and to be pedantic, he technically struck out all four batters he faced, although Judge was awarded a walk. It didn't matter.
The A's win; guaranteeing no worse than a series split and will go for the series win tomorrow for their third in a row. Tomorrow we do it at 1:05; Hahn vs. Tanaka. I'll be there in person. Enjoy your weekend.