Well, that was fun. After what feels like a million games this season in which the A’s broke our (collective) hearts, or fell just short, or teAsed us in the ninth, this game finally delivered; on the back of not one, not two, but three comebacks.
Down 7-3 in the seventh inning after Jharel Cotton’s five-inning, seven-run affair put the A’s behind (ironically pitching two innings longer than Houston starter McHugh, who left the game as he started the fourth inning), the A’s saw a grand slam by Marcus Semien tie the game at 7. Houston would retake the lead in the ninth with an exclamation point on a fantastic day by Josh Reddick, but the A’s came right back in their ninth and tied the game again on a solo home run by Boog Powell, of all people, and walked it off with a Jed Lowrie single, scoring Marcus Semien as the benches and dugout emptied in riotous celebration.
This game was good enough, and fun enough, and rewarding enough (and let’s face it, there’s so many games that aren’t), that it’s not worth delving deep into the obvious; Cotton was beat up again through his five innings, allowing three home runs, three walk for a total of seven earned runs, and Blake Treinen would have been in line for the loss himself, but would end up with the win, simply by virtue of being in the game and I guess only allowing the one run.
But the story of the game was truly the A’s offense, with a side of the Houston pitching.
Before the A’s even came up to bat, they found themselves in a 2-0 hole, thanks to the first of what would be three 2-run home runs allowed by Cotton, and only a nice double-play got him out of the inning. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, Collin McHugh pitched the first three innings before leaving with a broken fingernail. I’ll spare you the details.
Despite putting two men on in the first, the A’s were unable to score, but McHugh wasn’t as lucky in the second. Ryon Healy singled to open the inning and scored on the subsequent two-run home run by Matt Chapman, tying the game.
It didn’t last long. Cotton allowed a lead-off single in the third and with two outs, gave up a double to Josh Reddick, who incidentally was 3-3 with 4 RBI and 2 walks on the night, giving Houston the 3-2 lead. And then Cotton gave up his second two-run home run and the A’s found themselves down 5-2.
Matt Joyce got one run back in the A’s half of the third to close the gap to 5-3, but Cotton wasn’t done. For his swan song in the fifth, he allowed a single and his third two-run home run of the night to put the game out of reach at 7-3. And that was WITH some good defense behind him, including a great catch by Boog Powell, robbing the Astros of another probably home run; at best, a double.
Except, for once, just once, a 7-3 deficit in the seventh inning was not out of reach for these plucky youngsters. Credit Alcantara, Coulombe and Hendriks with keeping the score where Cotton left it. Alcantara performed some magic in keeping Houston off the board after starting the seventh with runners at second and third, and having the bases loaded with one out. It would have been easy to write the game off, already down 7-3, but by freezing the Astros at their previous 7 runs, he allowed for the comeback.
It started out innocently enough; Bruce Maxwell drew a walk. Matt Chapman singled to put two runners on, and Boog Powell singled to load the bases. And then...Marcus Semien hit a grand slam to tie the game. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounded. Yes, the team and the stadium came to life. And we reveled in the now-tied game for, oh, about another inning. Let’s not forget George Springer’s catch directly following the grand slam that robbed Joyce of extra bases, and effectively killed the A’s second wind of the inning.
Enter Blake Treinen for the ninth in the tie game. He of course allowed the ever-harmless lead-off single, collected two outs, and pitched to Josh Reddick. Reddick basically outplayed both teams tonight, and he knocked in the go-ahead run to dash the A’s hopes and dreams.
Down 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, help came from the most unlikely source, as Boog Powell hit a home run (his second of the year) to tie the game. And the crowd goes wild. I tell my wine that the A’s better score now, because a bullpen battle with Houston (or let’s be honest, a random Little League team) can only end in tears for the A’s. And for once, they listen.
Semien singled, Joyce walked, and Jed Lowrie, perhaps trying to bunt while the pitcher was trying to walk him, finally got a hard, fast cookie, and shot it out into the field to win the game; Semien was scoring no matter what; an interesting choice with zero outs to be sure, but it worked for the A’s tonight.
We find our heroes winners of two straight, heading into tomorrow’s double-header.
I’ll see you right here for all the action!