The Oakland A’s lost one star outfielder Friday afternoon for the rest of the year, but their newest star outfielder stepped up later that night.
Playing just his seventh game for the A’s since being acquired before the trade deadline, Starling Marte launched a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to send Oakland to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. It’s the A’s second straight walk-off win, and their 10th of the season.
Oakland last played Wednesday afternoon and won a walk-off over the Padres, but since then they lost Ramon Laureano for the rest of 2021 due to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Coupled with news of broadcaster Ray Fosse’s battle with cancer, it’s been a rough couple days for the green-and-gold, but Marte provided both a morale boost for the heart and also a confidence boost regarding the remaining roster.
The game was a pitcher’s duel for most of the evening. The A’s scratched out a run in the 4th inning by loading the bases and hitting into a double play, and the Rangers scored in the 5th on a double followed by a two-out single. Otherwise each club put on a few other runners but did nothing with them, and each had one runner thrown out at third base — the Rangers were caught stealing after their RBI in the 5th, and Oakland was tossed out being aggressive in the 10th.
For the A’s, starter Chris Bassitt chewed through the first seven frames.
- Bassitt: 7 ip, 1 run, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 5 hits, 94 pitches, 88.7 mph EV
This was his fourth meeting with Texas this summer, and each time he’s gone exactly seven strong, now totaling 28 innings with only three runs allowed.
The bullpen took care of the rest, with Sergio Romo, Lou Trivino, Andrew Chafin, and Yusmeiro Petit each tossing a scoreless frame. They combined to retire 12 of the 13 batters they faced, and Chafin and Petit each had to strand the automatic extra-inning runner too. By the end of the night, the Rangers had gone 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Chafin, you're a baddddd man pic.twitter.com/Wr64xZNBE1— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 7, 2021
However, while Oakland’s pitching was silencing the Rangers, the same thing was happening to the A’s lineup. They only picked up three hits through the first nine innings, including a Matt Olson double in the 4th that came around to score on Mitch Moreland’s double-play grounder. The 10th inning didn’t go any better, with the rarity of only two batters coming to the plate — the automatic runner got nabbed trying to advance on a fly ball.
Finally in the 11th, somebody did something. Mark Canha led off with a HBP, his MLB-leading 20th of the year and also the A’s third of the game. Then Marte came up and went yard, complete with a pose and bat flip. It’s a walk-off!
STARLING. MARTE. THREE-RUN. WALK-OFF. HOMER. pic.twitter.com/eVO95PMxgK— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 7, 2021
Marte’s biggest strength is being the on-base guy who sets the table and uses his speed, and indeed earlier in the evening he’d bunted for a single to lead off an inning. But he can also pop a few dingers, and this was his second long ball in the last three games. Losing Laureano is tough, but Marte and Canha are still a pair of stars in the outfield.
Winning one baseball game doesn’t erase the bummer of the last couple days, but it’s something at least.