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Game #108: By the Skin of Their Teeth

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a long time since the team has lost when Mike Fiers takes the mound. And for a moment, it appeared as if the team would. A lot of Fiers’ recent success has been tied to his limiting of the long ball, however, tonight, the longball got to him, and he allowed more than one home run in a game for the first time since May. Fortunately, the A’s offense showed off some power of its own to propel the team to victory in thrilling walk-off fashion.

Game Thread

At the outset, this game was a total pitcher’s duel. Apart from a lone Marcus Semien home run, both offenses struggled to manufacture much of anything.

Fiers’ in particular was dominant, showcasing his ability to generate soft contact while also striking quite a few Rangers’ out. Through the first five innings of the game, Fiers had five strikeouts and allowed just two hits. The only negative for those innings were that the Rangers got his pitch count up very high via four walks.

Entering the sixth inning, Fiers was fast approaching one hundred pitches and his catcher, Josh Phegley, was just replaced by Chris Herrmann after Phegley injured thumb earlier. Two pitches into the frame, Danny Santana hit a home run to tie the game up. Two batters later, Nomar Mazara did the same to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

The A’s had a response in the bottom half. To this point, Rangers’ starter Pedro Payano had been excellent. Apart from the aforementioned home run, which was flawless execution on Semien’s part as opposed to a mistake from Payano, he allowed just five hits. Four A’s did walk, but Payano kept the ball low in the zone and got three different key double plays. However, as it was Payano’s first start on the year after being used as a reliever prior to today, he was on a pitch limit and needed to be removed in the bottom of the sixth inning and two men on.

With Jess Chavez brought in to replace Payano, Pinder was at a platoon disadvantage, but he took a pitch that drifted too far north out and off the right field wall for a 2 RBI triple, the A’s retaking the lead.

Another run was tacked on when Danny Santana made another error in the field that allowed for Pinder to trot home.

Unfortunately, that lead evaporated in the eighth inning. Joakim Soria entered the game and gave up a single to Shin-Soo Choo and a double to Danny Santana. In this series, Santana went 8-14 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and nine runs driven in. A great throw from Matt Chapman saved a run.

And for a moment, with Liam Hendriks being brought in to escape the runners on first and second, one out situation and earn a five out save, it looked as though the A’s had a way out. But Hendriks faltered. A single made it 4-3. A double tied the game. An intentional walk loaded the bases. A would be double play ball deflected slightly off of Hendriks’ glove that made only one out possible and scored another run. 5-4 Rangers.

Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless ninth, navigating around a long walk with two outs, and it was up to the A’s to make some noise in the bottom half of the inning.

Herrmann singled on the fourth pitch he saw. Semien walked on the tenth pitch. Chapman flew out, but took eight pitches to do so, and suddenly Texas’ closer Jose Leclerq’s pitch count was getting high. Matt Olson strode up to the plate with the A’s in dire need of a hit, and he delivered with a line drive single to center field that tied the game up.

With a base open and Semien standing on third, the Rangers opted to intentionally walk Canha and try their luck with a force out at any base and Khris Davis due up. And for what Davis has lacked in his swing this year, his eye has gotten stronger, and after another long at bat that lasted six pitches, Davis walked to force in the winning run.

By the skin of their teeth, the A’s tie the series with the Rangers and end the series on a positive note. The team gets the day off tomorrow to recuperate before welcoming some National League teams to the coliseum later this week.