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Game #150: An Exciting End to a Boring Game, A’s Lose 5-4

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Khrush Davis launched a grand slam in the top of the ninth, but ultimately the A’s couldn’t overcome an early deficit and an onslaught of strong pitching from the Rays’ bullpen. The A’s drop two out of three games in Tampa Bay, and now have an off day before resuming play on Tuesday against the Angels in Oakland.

Game Thread #1 / Game Thread #2

For the first eight innings of today’s ballgame, there were only four green and gold baserunners. Three of those baserunners were Matt Olson, who singled twice and walked once against the Rays’ bullpen phalanx. Twice when Olson reached, he was erased on a double play ball hit by Stephen Piscotty. The other time Olson reached, he was retired on a forced out on a botched double play attempt. Ramon Laureano doubled in the eighth inning, but never advanced beyond second.

In the ninth, the A’s had three consecutive strong plate appearances to work three walks against reliever Jake Faria, loading the bases for the A’s 3-4-5 hitters. Khris Davis promptly unloaded the bases, crushing a grand slam that cut the Rays’ lead from 5-0 to 5-4, but the hitters around Davis all faltered and the A’s late tease went for naught.

The A’s were previously undefeated in Mike Fiers’ starts, but it was clear from the get-go that that kind of record was in jeopardy. A botched double play effort extended the first inning an extra batter, and C.J. Cron capitalized by crushing a home run deep to left field to give the Rays an early 2-0 lead.

Fiers kept the Rays off of the board for his next two innings, but looked really awful in the process, walking far too many batters and rarely hitting the target Jonathan Lucroy was setting up for him. In the fourth, Fiers was burned by the long ball once more, as light-hitting shortstop Willy Adames took Fiers even deeper than Cron did, fortunately with the bases empty. Overall for the day, Fiers pitched four innings, allowing four hits, three walks, and only striking out two.

Gearrin and Buchter provided a decent bridge through the middle innings, but with the A’s offense completely stymied by Tampa Bay, Bob Melvin opted to bring in Emilio Pagan in the seventh inning, the September-A’s signal that the team is looking forward to the next game, and the struggling righty gave up a couple of two out runs on a triple to the Rays’ Brandon Lowe. Those two runs proved to be huge, as Davis’ ninth inning slam left the team still a run short.

The A’s ran into good pitching at the end of a road trip filled with unpredictable weather, and thankfully didn’t lose much ground on their playoff competition despite the team’s struggles. The A’s now get to return to Oakland for their final home games of 2018 -- prior to the World Series run, of course.