After two lopsided losses to the Indians on Sunday in Oakland and again on Friday in Cleveland the A’s were still looking to win the series and stay on pace with the Seattle Mariners in both the A.L. West and the race for the second Wild Card spot.
The Indians struck early scoring a run in both the first and second innings. The second run came after a throwing error by A’s starter Edwin Jackson and was not charged to Jackson, which to be honest is kind of ironic, don’t ya think? (and I really was not trying to quote Alanis Morrisette for those of you old enough to know who I am talking about, sometimes things just happen that way). Oakland had chances to score early too but they couldn’t seem to put anything together against Cleveland starter and reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.
For the A’s starting pitching, Jackson went 5.2 innings, allowing five hits, two runs and four walks while striking out three. He was replaced by Ryan Buchter with two out in the bottom of the sixth after allowing back to back singles. Buchter then allowed a single to Lindor that gave the Indians’ Tyler Naquin time to score the Indians’ third run. With the score remaining 3-0 Cleveland it appeared as if the A’s only hope would be to somehow get to the Indians’ bullpen. They certainly weren’t getting very far against the two-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner Kluber, who pitched a full seven innings allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three, before Cleveland skipper Terry Francona went to his bullpen.
And that was Tito’s biggest mistake in the Indians’ loss to the A’s on Saturday, however he didn’t have much of a choice as Kluber exited the game with 102 pitches on the day.
And just like magic, as soon as Neil Ramirez was on the mound for the Indians, the A’s knew they had a chance to make a comeback. They’ve come from behind enough this season to know when exactly to make their advantage over other teams known. While the A’s may not have very decent (Jackson and Sean Manaea the being only exceptions) starting pitching, they have one of the best offenses in the game and in the bullpen have two pitchers who can not only close games but often pitch as many as two innings. Those were they tools the A’s used to make an eighth inning comeback to tie the Indians and take them into extra innings.
With one out in the top of the eighth Mark Canha singled off Ramirez. Next, Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis (who hadn’t hit a homer since June 14th) went back-to-back to tie the game at three. If you hadn’t ever watched the A’s this year you wouldn’t have really understood that this was the likely outcome as soon as Kluber was out of the game. That is not to say that the A’s can’t hit good pitching — but it is to say that very few hitters can and when they do? It’s probably luck.
Trivino and Treinen each pitched two scoreless innings and the A’s put three on the board in the top of the 11th inning beginning with a two-run shot by Stephen Piscotty. Matt Chapman followed that up with a double, that put him 4-for-4 with a walk on the day, before also stealing third and scoring the A’s final run. Lindor, who had made an unbelievable catch to stop the A’s in their tracks in the top of the ninth inning,
this time committed the error that allowed Chapman to come in from third and make the score 6-3 Oakland. Treinen came in for a one-two-three top of the 11th and the A’s came away victorious.
Basically, things went as planned for Oakland who knew that if they could get to the Indians bullpen with a rested Trivino and Treinen to keep them from scoring, they’d have a chance to make a comeback. It was just that, as it happened on so many occasions throughout the first half of the season. The A’s defeated the Indians by the score of 6-3 and are again nine games over the .500 mark.
On a Seattle note, the Rockies took their second straight game from the Mariners, outscoring them 5-1, putting the A’s even closer to second place in the division and to the second Wild Card spot.