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Game #77: A’s homer twice, beat White Sox 7-6 for series lead

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Daniel Mengden leaves early with foot sprain

Oakland Athletics v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It was a bit of a strange game today on the South Side of Chicago. It began after the A’s went down one-two-three in the top of the first, which is not particularly unusual for any team. However, from there on out there were some interesting occurrences.

The Bottom of the First

White Sox leadoff hitter Yoan Moncada maybe being hit by a pitch. Maybe? Well, it was the first time I ever saw a challenge on this type of play, that’s for sure. The umpire called the ball a foul tip but Moncada maintained that the ball had also hit his hand. It was virtually impossible to tell watching at home but it appeared not to hit Moncada. Then White Sox manager Rick Renteria did something unusual. He looked to Moncada prior to putting on the headset and calling for a replay. Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse mentioned that it was not the norm to do that — but the challenge was called and the call on the field was overturned, which was unexpected. That’s an interesting play to challenge in the first place and secondly it didn’t appear that there was overwhelming evidence to reverse the call. That said, it IS the A’s and it IS a replay challenge (to be fair Moncada was looked at by the team trainers but that still doesn’t mean the call on the field should have been overturned).

Suddenly the White Sox had a man on first base. Before A’s starter Daniel Mengden could get an out he allowed back-to-back singles to Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, then walked Matt Davidson to load the bases. Mengden came close to getting out of the jam with minimal damage but Kevan Smith hit a soft grounder that was fielded by Marcus Semien who threw to Franklin Barreto getting the out at second base, Garcia came into score as Barreto’s through to first was not in time to get Smith. Both Moncada getting hit by the pitch (maybe) and the A’s not being able to turn the double play led to Tim Anderson, who homered in the second game of Friday’s double-header, stepping to the plate. He hit a ball well over the head of Stephen Piscotty and out of the yard, giving Chicago a 5-0 lead over the A’s early in the game.

The Second Inning

After Khris Davis lined out and Matt Olson walked to begin the A’s half of the inning, Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run shot in the top of the second to put the A’s back in the game, it was only the second home run White Sox starter Dylan Covey had allowed all season. The home run was also the A’s 24th straight road game with a home run — tying the 1996 Baltimore Orioles MLB record. Friday the A’s broke the franchise record of 23 straight road games. It’s a shame they can’t seem to put on these offensive shows for the hometown fans.

Mengden was able to get out of the bottom half of the inning allowing just a single to Moncada but he had already thrown 44 pitches and it appeared that the bullpen was going to have to do the extra heavy lifting after two games yesterday. Still no one suspected that he wouldn’t come out to pitch the third inning — but he was replaced by Emilio Pagan, leaving the game early due to a foot sprain which is of course exactly what the A’s need, right? Yet another injured starting pitcher.

The Top of the Fifth:

Oddly, by the top of the 5th the White Sox also lost their starter as Covey, who exited early with hip tightness after surrendering a walk to Matt Joyce. His successor, Chris Volstead, walked Jonathan Lucroy, allowed a single to Barreto and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dustin Fowler brought Joyce into score. A batter later Jed Lowrie hit a drive down the right field line that passed Garcia, plating both Lucroy and Barreto with Lowrie ending up on second with a game tying double.

The Sixth Inning:

Matt Olson put the A’s up 6-5 in the top of the sixth with another home run, his 17th of the season. Unfortunately for Oakland, the White Sox answered back in the bottom of the inning. The White Sox half of the sixth started with Santiago Casilla on the mound and Yolmer Sanchez at the plate. Casilla got Sanchez out but then allowed a single to Anderson, hit Adam Engel with a pitch and the pair pulled a double steal on the A’s — both safe at their respective bases. The double steal didn’t end up being necessary as Casilla finished the contest between himself and Charlie Tilson with a four-pitch walk. With Moncada now at the plate and Lou Trivino having taken over for Casilla, Moncada hit a soft ground out, much like Smith’s in the first inning. It was just soft enough to keep the A’s from turning two and it allowed Anderson to re-tie the score at six all.

The Bottom of the Eighth:

The A’s scored their seventh run and final run in the eighth inning thanks to a double by Piscotty and a pinch-hit single courtesy of Nick Martini. What ultimately became the game winning hit also happened to be Martini’s first hit in the big leagues, which is pretty crazy when you think about it. If it were your first hit, it would be a pretty great story to recount for family and friends. Pinch-hitting isn’t ever easy. To accomplish getting your first MLB hit while pinch-hitting and have it be the hit that decided the outcome of the game just isn’t something you see everyday. There sort-of has to be a little luck in the formation of the situation for that to happen.

Finishing Up:

Blake Treinen got the last five outs of the game for his 17th save of the year, but not without a bit of a scare, which is yet just one more rather strange occurrence when Treinen is on the mound for the A’s. Treinen and Semien were both charged with errors allowing runners on the base paths. Still, as usual, Treinen was able to close out the game, enabling the A’s to defeat the White Sox by the score of 7-6. The A’s now lead the four-game series, two games to one, and will go for the series win on Sunday.