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Game #155: Semien’s Home Run, Walk-Off Wild Pitch Wins 94th game for A’s

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Game Thread

Celebrate good times, c’mon!

There’s an old saying that says if you want something done, you’d better do it yourself. Never more has this applied than when you find yourselves rooting for bad teams to beat your playoff rivals. Neither the Orioles nor the Angels could win against the Yankees and Astros today (one lost in extra innings, one gave up approximately 100 runs in an inning to ruin their 4-run lead), but you know who did? The A’s, whose magic number is disappearing rapidly. When I started the game thread yesterday, it was 4, the A’s win made it 3, today’s Rays loss made it 2, and the A’s second walk-off in as many days made it a single game.

One single game is all that stands between the A’s and their first playoff appearance since 2014. And very unlike 2014, we are thrilled—positively ecstatic—about securing (so far) the second Wild Card slot. In a year when 94 wins and the fourth best record in baseball barely makes the playoffs, as the A’s came out of nowhere to climb 33 games over the .500 mark, stun everyone in baseball, delight the fans, pull down a crowd of nearly 37,000 for the penultimate regular season game in Oakland this season, and celebrate with back-to-back walk-off wins, we will take them any way we can get them.

The way they won tonight was somewhat anti-climatic after Canha’s great, but ultimately unsuccessful, bases-loaded at-bat in a tie game with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning ended in a strike out, but the next pitch thrown was wild, and just like that, the A’s won their 94th game of the year. And I suppose that no game, no win, in this magical season is ever not celebrated, so here we are.

As fate, luck, baseball gods, magic in this magical season would have it, the A’s are primed to clinch a postseason spot tomorrow in their last regular season home game with either a Rays’ loss (10:00AM start) or A’s win (1:00PM start).

It’s really here! We’re on the doorstep of a 2018 postseason berth. What is happening in Oakland? and Can you believe it!?

I thought our announcers made a great point in our broadcast tonight. So many times and for so many teams, fans wait for “the hero” to come up to bat, usually one or two players somewhere in the 3/4/5 range of the lineup. Part of what has made the A’s offense so wildly successful this season is that the hero can literally come from any member of the lineup in any spot. With the exception of Khris Davis’ MLB-leading home run total, the rest of the team has moderate home run power scattered up and down the lineup; highlighted in Canha’s huge blast last night and Semien’s huge blast tonight, which followed Laureano’s single. Those two hits plus Piscotty’s lead-off double in the ninth, were the only offense the A’s could muster, and they made them stand up for the entire game. After the last two games and two football scores, it’s nice to see the A’s can still hang with a close contest.

Mike Fiers started this game, and like a proper starting pitcher, he pitched six excellent innings, allowing four hits and one run, while striking out five. Add him to the list of “things we just never saw coming”. It’s funny, thinking about 2014; we’re in the same place with our “we just picked him up” than we were with our “we went out and got ringers to try to win it all”. The 2018 A’s will go just as far as the 2014 team, with a whole lot more future, and they have the potential right now to go a whole lot further into the playoffs.

The Twins led the A’s 1-0 until the fifth inning and the aforementioned single by Laureano and ultimately game-winning home run by Semien as the A’s flipped the script on the Twins in the fifth. Tonight’s bullpen struggle came from Familia, who was terrific in last night’s game, but allowed a double and a single to tie this one in the seventh. He was bailed out by Buchter, who was near perfect, and Rodney, who finished Buchter’s eighth inning, and of course, Treinen was perfect in his ninth inning, to set the table for his second win in as many nights.

It’s also as good of a time as any to mention that the A’s defense was nails tonight, highlighted by (who else!?) Chapman’s gorgeous play to end the fifth inning.

Piscotty’s lead-off double in the ninth set the table for a promising rally, but it took a little bit of help from the Twins to end the game. I’d also like to note I never once thought the A’s would lose this game, and how they have managed to win 94 games while leaving half the population of Oakland stranded at third with less than two outs, I’ll never know, but they have won 94 games and they’re going to live and die by what they are doing right, and so will we.

The one time you bunt; and it’s been pretty proven that it’s the only time it gives you the real advantage, is when you are playing at home and need exactly one run. Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth with Piscotty on second, that was the situation for Ramon Laureano, who attempted a bunt for his first strike, and then swung away right into the strike out (his weakness) for the first out. Marcus Semien grounded to shortstop in what should have been the second out, but the shortstop dropped the ball, recovered, threw to first, where the first basemen couldn't handle the hop, so Semien was safe at first, and Piscotty at third.

Canha worked an 11 pitch at-bat to try to win the game, and it was epic, but he just couldn’t get the ball fair, in the air, or on the ground to send the frenzied Oakland crowd into the fireworks both on and above the field. However, the very first pitch to Chapman was thrown basically up the first base line, for an easy wild pitch as Piscotty came sliding in to score to win the game.

It genuinely doesn’t get much better than this. The A’s have 7 games to go, 94 wins already under their belt, postseason virtually secured, and hopefully the clinch can be at home for all of you tomorrow. They’ve earned this; we’ve earned this, enjoy it to the fullest. Because no matter what, 2018 will be a year to remember; it’s been the most fun June, July, August and September I can remember in decades.

Thanks, Green and Gold! Let’s see what you’ve got in this last week!