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Spring Game #15: A’s score six in 9th inning to force tie

Last-minute comeback!

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Dodgers
Kevin Smith is heating up
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s and Colorado Rockies played a spring training game in Arizona on Saturday, but it was wild enough to be a Coors Field special.

The A’s entered the 9th inning facing a huge deficit, but they rallied for six runs in the final frame to force an 11-11 tie in their Cactus League exhibition contest.

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

Today perfectly exemplified two principles of spring training, that it can be super fun but that the results are meaningless. The Rockies built a big lead in the middle innings, including seven runs in the 4th, and the A’s came to bat trailing 11-5 in the bottom of the 9th. But they sent 10 batters to the plate in that frame and pushed six runs across the plate to knot the score, and at that point both teams agreed they’d gotten their work in and everybody called it a day, with no extra innings necessary to determine a winner.

In other words, we’re talking about practice.

But what a practice it was! Right off the bat, Tony Kemp continued his torrid spring with a leadoff homer.

Kemp later added a double (click here to watch).

The A’s fell behind 7-1 by the bottom of the 4th, but they kept chipping away. Seth Brown was the next to go deep.

In the 5th inning, Elvis Andrus took his turn.

But the Rockies kept climbing up the scoreboard, and by the bottom of the 7th it was still a 10-3 blowout. That’s when infield prospect Kevin Smith entered the chat, and promptly exited stage left for a two-run homer, his third of the spring to match the team lead (with Neuse).

Smith was also instrumental to the rally in the 9th. He came up with the bases loaded and nobody out and delivered a single to drive home the first run of the inning. Two more singles, a walk, a sac fly, and an RBI groundout each accounted for one more run apiece, erasing Colorado’s lead. The tying run was driven in by outfielder Ramon Laureano.

What a comeback! The biggest line in the box score goes to Smith, with his two hits, three RBI, and three runs, but 10 different batters had hits this afternoon.

And how about some defense? In addition to his two extra-base hits, Kemp posted this highlight play at second base.

Brown also chipped in a gem, sprinting in for a diving catch in right field. Between the speed and defensive acumen required for this play, and his dinger at the plate, he showed off his underrated talents on both sides of the ball.

The pitching wasn’t quite as happy of a story, as you might imagine with 11 runs allowed. Starter Paul Blackburn made it through three scoreless innings but fell apart in the 4th, including uncharacteristically walking three batters straight, and the bullpen didn’t offer much help. Relief candidates Justin Grimm and A.J. Puk both got roughed up, though Sam Moll and prospect Brian Howard settled things down the rest of the way.

It wasn’t a perfect day, but it wasn’t a boring one either, and there was plenty to like from some key names. The A’s are now 4-9-2 this spring, with four wins, nine losses, and two ties, but the standings don’t matter and will be reset next week. Enjoy the non-loss and the fun comeback!