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Game #96: Canha get a home run?! A’s 4, Giants 3

Oakland’s first pinch hit home run in over two years came from Mark Canha, and it put the A’s ahead for good in San Francisco.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants
Mark Canha (center) is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Revisit tonight’s game thread excitement here and here.

The Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-3 on Mark Canha’s seventh-inning pinch-hit two-run home run. Both starting pitchers—Brett Anderson for the A’s and Jeff Samardzija for the Giants—struggled and were out of the game early, but Oakland’s bullpen shut down San Francisco’s hitters, allowing no hits in the final five innings.

With the Seattle Mariners losing to the Colorado Rockies tonight, the A’s pull within four games of a Wild Card postseason berth.

Starters struggle

Jeff Samardzija only conceded three hits, but he gave up a lot of loud outs and didn’t have good command. Derek Holland was already warming up in the third inning.

Oakland’s first run scored on some lovely situational hitting and base running, with a little bit of National League intrigue. Chapman and Pinder walked to lead off the second, and Chapman advanced to third on Fowlers lineout to center field. Josh Phegley then hit a somewhat shallow fly ball to right fielder Andrew McCuthen. However, with Brett Anderson on deck, Chapman (with Matt Williams in the third base coaching box) ran; McCutchen uncorked an awful throw up the first base line, giving Posey no chance to tag Chapman. 1-0 A’s. Of course, Brett Anderson blooped his own single to left anyway for his eighth career base hit, his first for an American League team.

Brett Anderson was giving up lots of contact of his own, though in the early going the loud contact seemed to find their way to A’s gloves. It was more the soft flares and ground balls that were causing hits to pile up. Anderson managed to leave the bases loaded in the first. But in the second, Giants center fielder Steven Duggar dropped a chip shot down the left field line for a double. Duggar scored on Alen Hanson’s ground ball single to left field, there was no question of a play at the plate with Khris Davis in left field, but I don’t think another fielder would have made a difference. It was a 1-1 tie after two.

Oakland’s successful situational hitting continued, though they couldn’t quite string together multiple hits against a wild Jeff Samardzija. Stephen Piscotty doubled to lead out off the third and he advanced to third base on a wild pitch. This prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to start warming Derek Holland. While Matt Olson popped out, Khris Davis hit a deep fly ball to left field that might’ve been out in the day or in another park, but it was good enough to score Piscotty. Brett Anderson followed up with a shutdown inning to make it 2-1 A’s after three.

Jeff Samardzija hit Chad Pinder to lead off the fourth but the Shark escaped without any damage despite some liners to infield gloves hit by Josh Phegley and Brett Anderson(!). With Samardzija due up fourth in the bottom half, he wasn’t long for this game.

Giants pull ahead

Anderson was allowed to hit for himself, but didn’t reward Bob Melvin for it by giving up back-to-back doubles to tie the game at 2. Austin Slater’s pinch-hit single for Samardzija score San Francisco’s go-ahead run, and Yusmeiro Petit was on the way in from the right field bullpen.

Petit walked a tight-rope in the fourth. He initially gave up a single to Chase d’Arnaud to put two runners on, but he got an incredible gift of a swinging strike call from third base umpire Greg Gibson to make it two out. Belt disagreed with Gibson rather vehemently as he returned to the Giants dugout. When he came out to the take the field in the top of the fifth he carried on, and Gibson ejected Belt.

One important play that won’t show up in the box score is Marcus Semien’s diving stop of Andrew McCutchen’s ground ball to the hole. Though he couldn’t retire the runner, Semien saved a run by keeping Austin Slater at third base. Posey popped out to right field to end the 4th with the Giants leading 3-2.

Bullpen battle

From there, the bullpens were put to the test, starting with long relief roles. Derek Holland was brilliant in the fifth and sixth, striking out Oakland’s one through five batters before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. Yusmeiro Petit continued on by retiring his next six batters, finish the night with three strikeouts in 2 23 innings pitched.

Yes we Canha

San Francisco’s bullpen gave way first. Tony Watson owns a superb 1.67 ERA in 43 innings this season, giving up just two home runs. Josh Phegley singled to lead off the seventh, and Mark Canha hit an emotional pinch hit home run to give the A’s a 4-3 lead, tossing his bat in a bit of showmanship.

By the way, Mark Canha thinks you’re a dinkus if you think bat flips aren’t cool:

Mark Canha for President.

The A’s got a few more hits and walks along the way, but no more runs.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

Still, there were nine outs to get. Time for some TnT.

Lou Trivino’s first task was the heart of the Giants order in the seventh inning, and he labored through it. He struck out Pablo Sandoval but failed to finish off Andrew McCutchen despite getting ahead 1-2, and then McCutchen stole second with Buster Posey at the plate. Posey struck out swinging, and Bob Melvin elected to intentionally walk Brandon Crawford, the go-ahead run, to have Trivino face Gorkys Hernandez. The move paid off, with Hernandez flying out to center field.

Trivino had to throw 24 pitches in the seventh, but with the bottom of the GIants order and the All-Star break coming up and the pitcher’s spot likely due up in the top of the ninth, Bob Melvin stuck with Trivino for the bottom of the eighth. Trivino promptly retired Stephen Duggar, Alen Hansen, and Nick Hundley in 12 pitches to hand the game to All-Star closer Blake Treinen.

Treinen had not pitched since Tuesday night’s hilarious finish against the Astros. He’s on record as believing he’s more effective when he pitches more frequently, and he found himself unable to find the strike zone after recording the first two outs of the ninth, walking both Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey. A mound visit from Scott Emerson and the A’s infield seemed to do the trick for Treinen, and the slumping Brandon Crawford struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end the game and heart attacks of A’s fans everywhere. It was Treinen’s 24th save, and the A’s are now 37-0 when leading after seven innings.

Break time!

The rubber match of this series in San Francisco is tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. Pacific Time, and it represents the end of the first “half” of the season. Be sure not to miss Jesus Luzardo starting for the World team at the same time in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game on MLB Network.

Tonight from AT&T Park, it was a glorious victory for the Boys in Green and Gold. A’s 4, Giants 3.