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Game #104: Matt Chapman hits a home run and two triples as A’s sweep Rangers

No late-inning comeback but another exciting win for the green and gold!

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers
A’s third baseman Matt Chapman.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The A’s did not make a crazy comeback or score 15 runs in the fourth and final game of this series against the Texas Rangers, but the game was a good one that could, at times, have been called a bit crazy. Still, once again they did come out on top by the score of 7-6 to complete the sweep of their division rivals on Thursday in Arlington.

<<<<<<<Revisit Game Thread >>>>>>>

The First Inning: Hits, Errors and Runs - Oh My!

The first inning would be the one I would deem the craziest of the game, unusual for the A’s these days, but crazy nonetheless. Both teams put up two runs but they were not as typical as you might think. The game started off with Rangers’ starter (and everyone’s favorite 45-year-old pitcher) Bartolo Colon hitting A’s lead-off hitter Nick Martini, who ended up reaching base four times in the game, with a pitch to put a man on first.

Jed Lowrie reached base on an infield single and Martini was able to advance to third on a throwing error by Colon. A single off the bat of Khris Davis to right fielder Shin-Soo Choo allowed both Martini and Lowrie to score. Choo attempted to make the throw to third to get Lowrie but it went flying past third baseman Jurickson Profar and into the Rangers’ dugout, which allowed Davis to advance to second base. With two outs in the inning Stephen Piscotty singled to left and Davis made his way towards home plate but the throw by left fielder Joey Gallo got there first. It gave the Rangers’ their third out and out of the first half of the inning relatively unscathed. The Rangers added two in the bottom half of the first after A’s starter Trevor Cahill walked Choo, and hit second baseman Rougned Odor with a pitch. Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre singled to plate Choo and later Odor scored on a ground out by Gallo, tying the score at 2-2.

Matt Chapman and a whole lot of triples:

Matt Chapman was the hero for the A’s on Thursday going three for three with a walk and an RBI. After leading off the second inning with a solo-shot off of Colon, he later added two more hits which helped make the game a bit more interesting than your average, everyday ballgame.

First however, he was part of a three-run fourth inning that put the A’s back in the lead. Chapman walked after Colon got Piscotty to strikeout swinging on three straight pitches. With two outs in the inning and Chapman still on first base, Dustin Fowler tripled on a sharp grounder to right field plating Chapman. Martini then tripled for his second hit of the game, allowing Piscotty to score. The third run of the inning came on an RBI-single by Marcus Semien.

Seriously, though — how often do you see two triples in a single game, especially two triples back-to-back? That, in and of itself, makes for an even more interesting game than one you would see on any given day.

The Rangers did make it a ballgame, coming back to score two runs in the fifth. Up until that point all of the Rangers’ runs were credited to Cahill who was later relieved by Emilio Pagan to start the bottom of the sixth. Before that could happen, however, Chapman added a triple of his own to the A’s day in the top of the sixth but was left stranded on base as Colon retired the three of the A’s next four batters, giving up just a walk to Martini. Still, when Matt Chapman added on that THIRD triple of the day for the A’s, the game became even more unique.

With hundreds of comments on the game thread just prior to the top of the seventh inning here at Athletics Nation, we began our second Game Thread of the evening which you can find below.

<<<<<<<Revisit Game Thread 2 >>>>>>>>>

The A’s added on, what at first appeared to be simply an insurance run, off of Rangers’ reliever Alex Claudio in the eighth. They did so after allowing the A’s FOURTH and Chapman’s SECOND triple of the game (That’s really a whole lot of triples for one team in one afternoon, don’t you think?). Chapman later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Lucroy.

Trevor Cahill made it through five innings before being relieved by Emilio Pagan, Lou Trivino and in the the bottom of the eighth, our new friend Jeurys Familia, who all pitched one inning each. The Rangers scored their final run in the eighth off of Familia bringing the A’s lead back to just one run. All-Star closer Blake Treinen, who was pitching for the third straight day, allowed a hit to Adrian Beltre in the ninth but otherwise shut the Rangers’ hitters down for his 27th save of the year, with a little help from fellow 2018 All-Star Jed Lowrie.

It may not have been the A’s most exciting win of the series and they had the lead for most of the game so there wasn’t another come from behind win, but it still was a very fun game to watch. FOUR triples were hit by the A’s offense which is an uncommon occurrence. When you add to that the fact that two of the triples were back-to-back and the other two came off the bat of the same player, what would usually be seen as an uncommon occurrence becomes a very cool one.

What do the exciting events of the past week (or six actually) mean for the A’s?

When all was said and done the A’s defeated the Rangers 7-6, completing the four-game sweep in what will likely be one of, if not the, most exciting series of the season. They scored a total of 41 runs in four games and are now just a game behind the Seattle Mariners in the race for the second American League Wild Card Spot. They also happen to be a mere six games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros. That isn’t at all that far out of reach.

Anyone remember 2012? Silly question, of course you do! Everyone, in Oakland at least, does. In the event you don’t remember, which would be really weird being that you are reading this on Athletics Nation (sorry, but it’s true!), let me give you the short version of how it went down. The A’s were predicted to lose 100-plus games that season. Instead they found themselves just five games out of first place in the AL West with nine games left to play. Facing the AL West leading Rangers at home for games 160, 161 and 162, the team “Bernie Leaned” and “Spiderman Pied” their way to a tie for first after game 161. What happened the next day in game 162 will likely go down in A’s lore for years to come. The A’s won (not lost — so far exceeding any and all expectations) their 94th game and the AL Western Division Title on the final day of the season.

Am I saying that the A’s will win the division this year? No, of course not. What I am saying is that there are certainly more than nine games left in the 2018 season. So we can say definitively and, most of us, from direct personal experience that it’s not impossible for the A’s to sneak up and take the division. It doesn’t matter if they are trailing the reigning World Champions or not.

As we have seen this week (and in 2012) magic does happen from time to time. Baseball is nearly impossible to predict and, from where I stand, these players believe in not just magic but in themselves and their abilities. Each player on the roster is contributing, many had already formed life-long friendships coming up through the minor leagues together, already knowing how to win together. Joined now with the team’s veterans like Lowrie and Davis, they have all formed a strong team chemistry, that apparently includes Red Bull chugging contests. Obviously, they are having fun. Playing the game in a lighthearted way and simply loving what you do, can make special things happen.

They don’t ever really believe they are out of any game. The 2018 A’s know they can play and they refuse to ever say die! With that kind of team — and perhaps a little extra starting pitching help — there is no telling what the next two months will bring. I have always believed that in baseball, anything can and will happen. I’ve been there to see too many seemingly impossible things become possible to not believe that.

The way the A’s have been playing, with every player making contributions, a stellar bullpen, strong friendships and phenomenal chemistry, who knows what they next two months will bring? There’s absolutely a chance that the AL West could be won by the oft-overlooked little team that could, a team out of Oakland.