Friday night for the big win!!!!!!
You don’t need to look any further than tonight’s game to see exactly how the A’s plan to win a playoff game in October. Starting with Manaealator (Sean Manaea) on the mound, they allowed him to pitch five innings until he visibly tired at 67 pitches, and then used the combination of Sweet Lou (Lou Trivino), Uiya Clara (Fernando Rodney), who struck out the side, La Fama (Jeurys Familia), and would-have-been Train (Blake Treinen) had the offense not roared to life in the eighth and ninth innings; no hit bigger than the 3-run home run by Matt Chapman to break the game open, and turn the nail-biting 1-run lead into a non-save situation all in one swing. Instead, Kelleytime (Sean Kelley) earned the ninth inning nod and he, much like the entire bullpen who went before him, was outstanding.
As a result, it only mattered to our blood pressures if the game ended 2-1 or 7-1; the A’s win this game even with the runs that they were able to scrape up before their offense reengaged.
On the back of three late home runs by the A’s after struggling early; the only early offense provided by Luc (Jonathan Lucroy) and his 3-4 night, including what would have been the game-winner, combined with a zero-earned-run performance from Manaealator and of course, the sheer dominance of the bullpen, the A’s stopped their two-game skid in its tracks and won a huge game (they all are, at this point) and now wait the outcome of the Astros/Angels game. No shame in rooting openly and hard for the Angels.
This game certainly started out listless, as neither team could muster anything for the first four innings. The A’s recorded singles by Jedi Lowrie in the first (a beat-the-shift bunt), Momo (Stephen Piscotty) in the second, and Tini (Nick Martini) in the third, who as the Minnesota announcers pointed out should have comfortably worn the nickname “Dirty”, really a missed opportunity there. Meanwhile, Manaealator allowed just a single and a walk during that span.
And then came the errors of the fourth inning. Jedi opened the inning with a walk, and the pitcher, Odorizzi threw the ball away on KD’s (Khris Davis) hit, leading to runners at the corners with no one out. Oly (Matt Olson) came up with the sacrifice fly to put the A’s on the board, but the A’s second double-play in four innings erased any further threat.
In a weird twist, a near-exact same thing happened in the bottom of the inning; this time on a bunt single to the A’s pitcher, Manaealator, who threw it away to put a runner on second with no one out. A sacrifice bunt (of which there would be plenty by the Twins) and a sacrifice fly tied the game at one.
The A’s untied the game for good in the fifth inning, on the big hit by Luc after a Tom Ace (Mark Canha) double, giving the A’s the 2-1 lead. Manaealator allowed two singles in the fifth, but finished the inning, and his start, but it was enough to earn his twelfth win of the season.
The A’s best strengths were on full display the rest of the game. Their lights-out bullpen slammed the door on the Twins while the offense decided to come to the party. The only hit bigger than Luc’s RBi single was the absolute best moment in the game, in the eighth inning, as Luc singled again to open the inning, and after going down early 0-2 in the count, Tini worked a walk to put two on base for Chappy. In between fouling off pitches, he worked the count full himself before absolutely launching a home run into the stands, sending A’s fans everywhere scrambling to their feet, and the considerable A’s fans in the park yelling happily into the Minnesota night as the game was won right there.
The A’s weren’t done. Momo (Piscotty) launched a home run of his own in the ninth, and Noodles (Ramon Laureano) followed suit one batter later for his third of his career. I didn’t know he came with power.
That was a win. And as much fun as scoreboard watching is, the A’s need to win their games to control their own destiny and they sure did tonight. How much fun is meaningful late-August baseball? Am I right?
We do it again tomorrow; 4:10PM (Pacific), Kai (Mike Fiers) vs. Stephen Gonsalves.
LET’S GO OAK-LAND!