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Game #41: Small Ball, Coliseum Sun Blindside Indians

Move out the way, Moneyball. Small ball’s back in Oaktown!

Cleveland Indians v Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Just as I was preparing my Aaron Brooks farewell letter, the A’s won the game on some plays that were both extremely in-character and out-of-character for them.

Two times today, the A’s received timely help from a pair of old, unconventional friends — the Coliseum sun and small ball strategy — to secure their first back-to-back series win of the year.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

First, in the third inning, Trevor Bauer, who was nearly flawless all day, made his most costly mistake of the night in the third inning. 5th inning, 1 out, Nick Hundley up to bat, the game tied 1-1, the count even at 1-1. Bauer uncharacteristically threw a 93 mph four-seam fastball straight down the middle, which Hundley launched deep into right field. Indians left fielder Jake Bauers leaned up against the wall, hoping he might have a chance to make a highlight-worthy leaping catch.

But Jake (I don’t want to keep switching between Bauer and Bauers), blinded by the sun, couldn’t find the ball, which ended up bouncing off the wall 6 feet to his left and rolling almost halfway to third base. Hundley, halfway to second, picked up the pace and went for the triple. A shaken Jake two-hopped the ball past third baseman Jose Ramirez and all the way to the area behind home plate. Neither Bauer nor catcher Roberto Perez were in the right position to back Ramirez up, allowing Hundley to get all the way home and the A’s to steal the lead. The only way hecould look more like a little leaguer was if he had a metal bat and some chubby cheeks.

Then came the 9th inning, when the A’s both lost and won the game. After Blake Treinen gave up the lead with just one out to go, the A’s came back in the bottom of the inning with a Matt Olson walk and a Kendrys Morales single. With no outs on the board and runners on first and second, the baseball handbook declares, “The next hitter dost buntith the ball, sacrificing thyself to move thy runners up.”

But if you know the A’s, you know that following the baseball handbook is not their forte. That’s why when Stephen Piscotty held his bat out and bunted the ball to the left side, the crowd went nuts. All the team needed now was either a deep infield groundball or a sacrifice fly to the outfield. Along came Ramon Laureano, who popped the ball up to right field. As right fielder Jordan Luplow sprinted in to catch the ball, it was becoming clear that the ball wasn’t deep enough to get the runner home. Then, all of a sudden, the Coliseum sun struck the Indians again! Luplow slid around the ball and missed the catch, allowing Olson to easily trot home and the A’s walked off for the second game in a row!