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Game #89: A’s Celebrate the 4th With a Series Win

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing loss on July 3rd, the Oakland A’s came into Independence Day looking to win the series clincher against the Minnesota Twins. It was a tight contest filled with tense moments, but the A’s blew it open in the 8th inning and ultimately prevailed 7-2.

Thin Pitching

The A’s came into Thursday’s game seemingly at a pitching disadvantage. While borderline ace Jose Berrios started for the Twins, the A’s trotted out the struggling Tanner Anderson. Additionally, Bob Melvin had been forced to use just about all the high-leverage relievers in an extra inning game the previous night.

Anderson was far from sharp, but he was able to wiggle his way out of a number of jams throughout the game. In the first inning, the Twins loaded up the bases but only managed to score one run, which came as a result of catcher’s interference. While catcher Chris Herrmann was the guilty party, he had plans to get that run back.

Big Hit Herrmann

If Herrmann isn’t careful, he may earn himself a reputation around the Bay as a clutch hitter. After hitting a go-ahead grand slam in his first game as an Athletic two days previously, Herrmann came up Thursday with two on, two out, and the A’s trailing 1-0. He served the first pitch he saw softly into left field, allowing Khris Davis to score and tying the game in the 4th.

Getting an Edge

After Herrmann’s big hit, Anderson quickly relinquished the lead in the top of the 5th by giving up an RBI single to Ehire Adrianza. With two outs and two men on, Anderson was replaced by the always reliable Wei-Chung Wang, who retired the first batter he faced to end the threat.

In the bottom half of the inning, Marcus Semien stepped in a and launched a deep home run to center field. A struggling Berrios subsequently loaded the bases by putting Matt Chapman (walk), Matt Olson (single), and Davis (walk) on.

Mark Canha stepped in with a chance to do major damage, but the best he could muster was a double play ball that scored Chapman from third. The A’s ended with just two runs in the inning, but it was enough to give them a 3-2 lead heading into the 6th.

Wei-Chung is Wonderful, Trivino Tremendous

Wang’s steady contribution to the A’s scuffling bullpen continues to increase in magnitude. On Thursday, he stepped into a 5th inning jam and shut it down. He then proceeded to pitch two more scoreless (and hitless) innings.

Wang’s ERA dropped to 1.56 and he helped the A’s maintain their narrow lead heading into the 8th where he was replaced by Lou Trivino.

Trivino’s struggles this year have been well-documented, but he pitched a scoreless (though strenuous) 11th Wednesday night, and Thursday he was tasked with the set-up role. He allowed a hit in the 8th, but stranded the runner. He recorded two strikeouts and a pop-out in the inning — a great sign for Oakland.

Have a Day, Marcus

Despite the bullpen’s impressive work, the green and gold were hoping for a little insurance in the bottom of the 8th inning. Semien, who had already done his part with a solo shot earlier in the game, was more than happy to comply. After Robbie Grossman (3-4 on the day) and Herrmann (4-4) singled, Jurickson Profar was hit by a pitch to load up the bases for Semien. Semien smacked one over the left-field wall for a grand slam, blowing the game open for the Athletics.

Wrapping It Up

Joakim Soria came in to wrap up the game for the A’s. After allowing a leadoff double, he recorded three straight outs to bring home the win. The A’s have won three straight series and are 12-4 in their last 16 games. They will now travel to Seattle where they take on the Mariners in a three-game slate.