Oakland won their second straight game today, taking the second game against the White Sox in walk-off fashion 7-6 on a gorgeous day at the Coliseum.
It started well enough for the A’s today. After a quiet top of the first for Kyle Muller, Tony Kemp led off the bottom half with a triple to center field, becoming the first Athletic with triples in back-to-back games since Billy Burns in 2016. Kemp didn’t have to wait long to score as JJ Bleday followed him and brought him home with an RBI sac fly. Oakland had a lead.
Five pitches in and the A's are on the board pic.twitter.com/8Lm3Z4CurH— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 1, 2023
And then it was gone. Chicago slugger Eloy Jimenez led off the second with a no-doubter home run to knot this game back up. The White Sox added on a pair in the third thanks to three singles and a walk, pushing Muller’s pitch count up quick. He buckled down in the latter half of his start as he sat down the next six White Sox in order to get through five innings.
The bats meanwhile continued their recent trend of disappearing. The team only managed a couple walks between the second and fourth innings. They finally got something going in the fifth.
Back-to-back singles opened the frame and brought up Esteury Ruiz. He tried a bunt base hit but a nice play from the pitcher nailed the A’s runner at third. A sac fly and another Bleday RBI cut into the Chicago lead with Oakland now only down one.
On top of that, a bit of team history was made during that rally:
Esteury Ruiz with his MLB-leading 42nd stolen base. He ties Mitchell Page (1977) for most stolen bases by an A's rookie in a season.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) July 1, 2023
Oakland turned to the bullpen in the sixth as Austin Pruitt relieved Kyle Muller after five innings and 86 pitches.
-Kyle Muller: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 86 pitches
It was his first start since coming back from Vegas and it wasn’t all that bad. One bad pitch to a notable slugger and a tough third inning makes his final line look worse than how he actually threw the ball today. He actually sat down the final 8 of 9 batters he faced in this one. I’d expect he earned another start after today’s performance.
Pruitt had a perfect appearance with a couple strikeouts and then the bats got to work again. A Jace Peterson triple and Ryan Noda double tied this game up again:
That hit chased Cease out of the game and then the A’s really got going. They loaded the bases for Ruiz with just one out. All they needed was a productive out from him but instead he struck out looking on an iffy call. And then Kemp grounded out to end the rally. But still, we had a tie game again.
And then the big hit finally came for Oakland. With two down in the bottom of the seventh, Seth Brown hit a 3-1 hanging slider over the right field wall for a lead-taking solo home run:
Nailing down this possible win would come down to the relievers. Lucas Erceg, who’s been a nice story for the bullpen this year, started the eighth and put the first two batters on to start the inning. He almost got out of it after striking out the next two batters but a two-out single tied this game and another knock gave Chicago the lead as Mark Kotsay pulled Erceg. Sam Long replaced him and walked in an extra run to give Chicago a bit of breathing room.
And they needed it against the A’s today. Ryan Noda walked and Ruiz doubled to put the tying run in scoring position. A balk brought in Noda and Kemp came through with a clutch infield hit to bring in Ruiz and tie this game up again. Both teams had scoring chances in the ninth but neither could push a run across. This game was heading to extras.
Shintaro Fujinami got the ball in the 10th and stranded the ghost runner at second in a dominate outing for the righty. He desperately needed that performance today.
Then it was walk-off time. With Wade starting the inning at second, the first two batters struck out and the 11th inning was calling. Wade had different ideas when Bleday grounded to the second baseman. An error allowed a hustling Wade to come all the way around and cross home plate for the winning run. Cue ‘Celebrate’.
That’s a series win, folks. Muller was solid for five innings but the bats really pulled their weight and then some in this back and forth game. The team still has a chance to secure a sweep tomorrow afternoon in the series finale. Paul Blackburn is set to take the ball hoping to secure the sweep for the Green & Gold.
I love a good walkoff.