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Game #102: A’s Overturn 8 Run Deficit, Win 13-10 in Extras

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

***Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread***

Jane’s tweet sums tonight up pretty well. If you missed the game, it was as thrilling as it least from the seventh inning onward. Prior to the seventh inning, well that might as well have been a completely different game.

Despite looking sharp in Nashville over his two all-star break “tune-up” starts, Frankie Montas was anything but tonight. Montas went five innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and four runs (three of which were earned). And it wasn’t just Montas who was lacking that bit of crispness you’ve come to expect from baseball’s hottest team since mid-June - everyone looked pretty bad.

The Rangers first run scored on an error charged to Stephen Piscotty. And then the Rangers proceeded to score nine more. Following Montas’ tough outing, Ryan Buchter couldn’t escape the sixth, despite throwing 26 pitches. The left-hander retired two Rangers, but he was charged with five of the six runs that scored in the sixth (only four were earned due to another error.)

Despite that cringe worthy line, Buchter didn’t give up the big blast that cost his ERA - that distinction fell to J.B. Wendelken.

It’s hard to be too critical of J.B. The ball didn’t seem to move much out of his hand, but still was 97 up-and-in. Sometimes you just have to be willing to credit the opposing hitter; Elvis Andrus did an incredible job keeping his hands inside the ball and drove it out to left field. Andrus probably got a little boost from the sweltering Texas heat too.

At this point, the A’s were down 10-2, and there was no reason to believe the Rangers were done scoring. This season has seen more than its share of comebacks, but an eight run deficit in the seventh is a pretty tough hill to climb. Not a moment too soon, however, the A’s bats came alive, hanging three in the seventh, four in the eighth, one in the ninth to send the game to extras, and three in the tenth to cap the incredible comeback.

It was a pair of doubles in the seventh that kicked it all off, one from Marcus Semien and one from pinch-hitter Nick Martini. When you’re hot, you’re hot - Bob Melvin seemed to have pulled the correct string in selecting Martini to pinch-hit for Chad Pinder. Martini would reach base in all three of his plate appearances, garnering two hits and an RBI hit-by-pitch in the eighth inning.

Semien, too, would factor in the eighth inning four-spot, although the Rangers probably should have escaped unharmed. The A’s loaded the bases with one out and the score still 10-5. Semien hit a bullet of a groundball to Elvis Andrus, who is normally very sure-handed. It should have, in all likelihood, been a double play, but the ball bounded off Andrus’ chest and the Rangers were unable to record an out. Martini’s hit-by-pitch happened next, and Jed Lowrie singled to drive home two, cutting the deficit to just one.

Lowrie had been mired in a mini slump, but broke out of it in a big way, going 3-5 with a walk and a homer. The blast was Lowrie’s 17th of the season, a career high for him already in late July. Following a clean inning from the newly-acquired Jeurys Familia, the stage was set for ninth inning heroics. And who else?

Piscotty just missed a homer earlier in the game, but did not miss this one, driving it 406 feet to dead center. It feels like just yesterday we were collectively terrified that the real Stephen Piscotty had stood up last year, but an incredible six week stretch has pushed his wRC+ near 120 - in line with his 2015/16 numbers.

It was an improbable comeback, not just because of the eight run deficit, but also because Keone Kela hadn’t blown a save since May 2016. If we’re being intellectually honest, Kela wasn’t the closer for most of that period...but go with me here.

The A’s leaned on Familia again for the bottom of the ninth, and again he delivered. Khris Davis would deliver an inning later.

The A’s move to 16 games above .500 and, at least for tonight and tomorrow, become Giants fans as the Bay Bridge trophy losers match-up against Seattle.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2012.