It’s deja vu all over again.
For the second day in a row, the Oakland A’s fell behind early but came back to beat the Cleveland Indians, this time 6-3 at Progressive Field. And for the second straight day, the same hitter drove in the game-winning run for Oakland.
In the series opener last night, the Indians took a quick 3-1 lead but couldn’t hold on. Wednesday brought a similar script, as Cleveland went up 2-0 in the 1st inning and 3-2 in the 7th inning only to see the A’s charge back both times.
Most of the scoring for both teams involved Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie in some way. His defensive miscue in the 1st inning opened the door for the Indians’ first two runs, but he more than made up for it at the plate by sparking a two-run rally in the 7th and then launching the go-ahead three-run homer in the 8th. Lowrie is no stranger to clutch heroics, as he also drove in the tying and winning runs last night, and he continued his Professional Hitter act this evening without missing a beat.
The game started an hour behind schedule due to a brief rain delay, and even when the weather cleared it up it still had an effect on the field.
In the 1st inning, two of the first three Cleveland hitters reached base, and then the cleanup batter hit a tailor-made double play ball that should have ended the frame. Lowrie was playing near the bag at second and the soft flare went directly to him on one hop, allowing him to collect it, take a couple steps to touch the base himself, and then throw on to first. However, he didn’t get enough on the throw and it hit the dirt, skipping past Matt Olson. The batter-runner was safe at first (and advanced to second), the lead runner scored an unearned run, and the inning continued.
But is there anybody to blame for this one? Lowrie didn’t make that bad of a throw, delivering it right on target with a nice big bounce rather than short-hopping it. Olson usually catches this without a problem, and in fact it’s the first time all year that the multi-time Gold Glover has missed a scoop on a low throw. Replay clearly showed that he misjudged the size of the hop, which is understandable just an hour after it had been raining on that dirt.
They should have completed the play, but oh well. The bigger problem was the unfortunate timing, as not only did that run score but the next batter singled to drive home another.
By the time starting pitcher Frankie Montas got out of that marathon 1st inning, he’d thrown 32 pitches. But he settled down and dominated from there, facing the minimum over the next five frames. He issued a pair of walks along the way, but both were eliminated via double plays.
- Montas: 6 ip, 2 runs (1 earned), 6 Ks, 3 BB, 2 hits, 103 pitches, 86.1 mph EV
Both runs should have been unearned, but baseball’s scoring/error rules are silly and based on no semblance of reality, so one of the runs counts as earned. Either way, Montas turned in his sixth straight quality start — but would it be enough for a victory?
The A’s lineup was every bit as quiet for the first six innings against starter Cal Quantrill. In four of those frames they put a runner on first base, but only once did they get as far as second — on a Starling Marte single and steal, of course. He now has nine steals in 11 games since being acquired, though this time he was stranded in scoring position.
Finally in the 7th they broke through, with Lowrie at the forefront. He led off the inning and fouled off his first two pitches for an 0-2 count, but patiently worked his way out of that hole and into a seven-pitch walk. Yan Gomes followed with a single to center, just Oakland’s third hit of the day and the first one to leave the infield, and that was enough to knock out Quantrill and bring in Cleveland’s bullpen.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, it was time to simply make some contact to cash in a run. Mitch Moreland came through, with a groundout to second that easily plated Lowrie for an RBI. That’s a leadoff walk coming around to score!
They weren’t done. Matt Chapman was next and he singled up the middle, driving in Gomes. Tie game!
But the roller coaster wasn’t over.
Fall behind again
The only thing more frustrating than a leadoff walk is a two-out walk, and that’s what reliever Jake Diekman issued to the Indians in the bottom 7th. Two pitches later, he served up a booming double to drive home the gift runner, and Cleveland was back in the lead.
Diekman ended up being credited with the win tonight, because baseball’s pitcher win/loss rules are silly and based on no semblance of reality.
Come back again
Oakland would need a second comeback, and it only took four pitches to get it. Elvis Andrus led off the 8th inning and blasted a homer to left. In Cleveland, the home of Rock N Roll, Elvis had left the building.
This was only the third homer of the season by Andrus, all of them solo shots, but two of them have tied a game in the 8th or 9th innings. (He also did this against the Red Sox in July.)
With the score knotted anew, it was time for the A’s to finally build a lead of their own, and they got right to work. Next up was Mark Canha, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before but he was hit by a pitch, for the MLB-leading 21st time this season. It barely clipped his elbow pad, but hey, still counts. Marte followed with his second infield single of the night, and Oakland was in business with a new rally.
And you know who loves rallies? Jed Lowrie, Professional Hitter.
JED L.— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 12, 2021
(THE L STANDS FOR LEGEND) pic.twitter.com/LsTrXLhdkY
That’s a three-run dinger, and for the second night in a row it was Lowrie driving in the go-ahead run. “BRAAAAIIIINS,” said Zombie Lowrie after the game.
Add it up, and Lowrie had a hand in six of the game’s nine runs. He scored one, drove in three, and kinda sorta helped the other team get their first two. That’s a 4-2 Lowrie Margin, and we’ll happily take that every time.
The rest of the game proved to be a formality. Relievers Sergio Romo and Lou Trivino wrapped up the 8th and 9th innings for the A’s, retiring six of their seven batters. Oakland came close to adding insurance — in the 8th inning Moreland hit a 407-foot blast that somehow stayed in the park for a double, and in the 9th Andrus singled and stole second, but both were stranded.
Six in a row
That’s a six-game winning streak for the A’s! They’re the hottest team in the American League, having won 10 of their last 12, and they hold the First Wild Card spot with a one-game lead over the Red Sox.
Everything is clicking for Oakland right now, from pitching to hitting to defense. Ride the wave!