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Game #122: A’s win finale to avoid sweep in Chicago

One-run victory!

Oakland Athletics v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s finished a tough road trip on a positive note.

The A’s beat the Chicago White Sox 5-4 on Thursday, avoiding a sweep in the series finale at Guaranteed Rate Field and snapping a four-game losing streak.

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

Oakland got just enough of everything this afternoon. Their rotation gave them a quality start, their lineup hit three homers and earned an elusive bases-loaded RBI, and their bullpen nailed down the save even despite some unnecessary extra drama.

On the mound, Cole Irvin played stopper for the A’s recent skid. It took him 30 pitches to get through a shaky 1st inning, but he settled down from there. At one point he retired nine in a row, and in the 4th he loaded the bases but got out of it. His big mistake came in the 5th, when he issued a two-out walk and then a two-run homer.

  • Irvin: 6 ip, 3 runs, 1 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits, 87 pitches, 93.0 mph EV

That dinger in the 5th gave Chicago the lead at the time, but not for long.

Oakland flexed their own power display, and even though it wasn’t always efficient, it was at least enough to keep pace. In the 3rd inning, trailing 1-0, Sean Murphy tied it up with a solo homer.

Later, after the Sox had taken a 3-2 lead, Matt Chapman led off the top of the 6th by going deep. Another solo shot, another tied score.

In between those two homers? They loaded the bases in the 4th, a situation they’ve weirdly struggled in all year, and Tony Kemp managed to force a run home by drawing a walk. In the 5th, Starling Marte walked and stole second, but was stranded in scoring position.

They were getting on base, and they were hitting homers. All they needed was to combine the two, by getting on base and then hitting a homer. Just like Chicago had done against Irvin.

It finally happened in the 7th inning. With the game still tied, Elvis Andrus legged out an infield single to lead off the frame. Two outs later, Matt Olson found the seats in right field for a two-run homer. And since Andrus had stolen his way to second, technically it was a hit with a runner in scoring position!

It’s a good thing Andrus helped bank that extra run on Olson’s dinger, because he later gave it back.

The bullpen was well on the way to getting their job done. Yusmeiro Petit and Andrew Chafin retired six of their seven batters to send it to the 9th inning, and Lou Trivino had a runner on first and two outs. He induced a routine fly to center, and that should have been the end of the game with Marte camped under it waiting for the catch, but Andrus sprinted all the way out and collided with him and the ball bounced to the turf. Run scored, game continued.

It appears Andrus was ultimately OK after the play, so it feels appropriate to ask: What the hell was he doing? That wasn’t even shallow center, more like medium center, way too deep for a shortstop to assume that was his ball. Perhaps Marte should have called him off, but why would he even realize he needed to? Infielders don’t often make it out that deep, and there was no good reason for Andrus to do so here, as Marte had the play under complete control the entire time. This was a massive mistake by Andrus, and fortunately it didn’t cost them the game at the last minute.

The next batter hit a 111.6 mph line drive, which luckily went straight at a glove for the third out instead of finding a gap to tie the score.

Back on track?

Oakland was hot when they set out on the road, but over the past week their fortunes changed. Entering this afternoon, they’d lost five of six and also dealt with the blow of a major injury. Today they at least stopped the skid. Can they build on it and get fully back on track?