Thursday night’s A’s-Rays contest was a quiet affair for most of the night. The two teams threw back-to-back punches at each other with a solo homer apiece in innings 5 and 6. There was no more action after that until the 9th inning, when the A’s went to the ‘pen and the Rays went to scoring. It looked as though the A’s bullpen was going to accumulate another loss... but one should never count out the late inning A’s. A miraculous comeback capped off by a Matt Chapman blast gave the A’s a 5-4 victory and sent the fans home happy.
A Pitcher’s Duel
Starting pitchers Frankie Montas and Charlie Morton were rolling along for most of the game. They each gave up some hard hit balls and got into some jams, but neither had a problem subduing the opposing lineup.
In the bottom of the 5th, Jurickson Profar broke the deadlock by poking one over the right field wall. Oakland’s lead wasn’t enjoyed for long; Tommy Pham snapped back the very next inning with a solo shot of his own to even the score at 1-1.
The aging Morton didn’t last too much longer after that, getting the hook after 6 1⁄3 innings pitched. However, familiar face Emilio Pagan stepped in and resumed the battle against Montas, who pitched through the 8th.
Heading into the 9th, the A’s smelled a walkoff victory. They brought closer Blake Treinen into a tie game to make sure the green and gold would get that chance.
Wheels Off the Bus
The inning began unraveling as soon as it started. Treinen walked the leadoff batter, Pham. Then, after a long at-bat, he walked Brandon Lowe on a close pitch. A’s fans probably didn’t like the call, but it looked like it just didn’t have enough run to get back over the plate.
The Rays successfully executed a risky double steal after that, putting the A’s in a nearly impossible position. Two singles later, the A’s trailed 3-1 and Treinen was coming out of the game without having recorded an out.
Ryan Buchter and Lou Trivino came in to put out the fire, but not before the Rays got one more insurance run on a Willy Adames bunt where Olson flipped to the plate but couldn’t nab Avisail Garcia racing home.
One Last Chance
The bottom of the 9th started with promise as Robbie Grossman drew a leadoff walk from Rays’ closer Diego Castillo. After Stephen Piscotty grounded out sharply, Profar drew a walk, bringing the tying run to the plate. The A’s elected to pinch-hit Beau Taylor for Josh Phegley to create the lefty-righty match-up with Castillo. Taylor struck out.
With two outs and backs against the wall, the A’s sent Marcus Semien up to bat who brought life into the ballpark by lashing an RBI single to center field. The usually perfect Kevin Kiermaier strangely spiked his throw into the ground, allowing the runners to advance to second and third.
This was it... the A’s were one single away from tying the game with Matt Chapman coming to the dish. Matt Chapman spits on singles. He got a cement mixer slider and absolutely clobbered it, deep into the left field seats giving the A’s a stunning 5-4 victory.
Chapman was the hero, but it took great focus and tough at-bats from several guys in the ninth inning to get it done. The late inning A’s are back! And they have a four-game winning streak!
Sweet dreams, Oakland fans.