The Athletics, seemingly sinking so low as to be entering the Earth's core, pulled out a massive victory over the Houston Astros by the score of 4-3. They achieved their 80th victory on a ninth-inning game-tying two-run double from Josh Reddick followed by a walkoff single to left by Jed Lowrie to score Reddick.
Battle of Scotts
Both Scott Kazmir and Scott Feldman performed superlatively for their clubs today.
A's score an unearned run
The A's took a 1-0 lead by developing an unearned base runner in the third inning. Sam Fuld appeared to ground out to shortstop Jonathan Villar. Villar, however, seemed to trip over his own feet and had no play by the time he recovered. Eric Sogard then singled Fuld to second, and Coco Crisp laid down a beautiful bunt single to load the bases with nobody out in the third. Given the A's recent struggle, a sense of foreboding began to develop.
However, Brandon Moss did at least make the Astros pay for their initial error when he hit a fly ball to left field that scored Fuld from third. Josh Donaldson, however, grounded again to the third baseman, this time going around the high side of the diamond for the inning-ending double play.
Scott Kazmir throws 5 innings of no-hit ball
A's starter Scott Kazmir was taking advantage of the large strike zone afforded by home plate umpire Doug Eddings:
A big strike zone seems to be par for the course for Doug Eddings. Pretty low on the umpire-ERA list. pic.twitter.com/1GeeiLJKVp— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) September 6, 2014
After five, the scorecard looked like this:
The beat writers began to prepare for an avalanche of jinx tweets:
@JaneMLB you're jinxing it.— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) September 6, 2014
The sixth arrived, however, and Carlos Corporan singled on an 0-1 pitch for the Astros first hit of the day. The Coliseum faithful gave Kazmir a big round of applause for his efforts to that point.
On the next pitch, Jonathan Villar laid down a great bunt down the third base line that Josh Donaldson picked up and found he could do nothing with. The radio guys thought there might have been a chance the ball would have gone foul if Donaldson had continued to allow it to roll.
On the next pitch, Robbie Grossman laid down a sacrifice bunt that time went Donaldson to Sogard covering at first on a good play by Donaldson.
On the next pitch, Jose Altuve doubled home the two runners on.
Those were the only three hits Kazmir allowed, however. Kazmir got Dexter Fowler to fly out to deep center field on the next pitch, moving Altuve to third. With the Coliseum crowd imploring Kazmir and the Athletics not to pitch to Chris Carter, Bob Melvin complied, electing to intentionally walk the A's killer. Matt Dominguez struck out watching strike three for Kazmir's eighth and final strikeout.
In the seventh, the wheels began to fall off for Scott Kazmir. He walked Jake Marisnick, and then walked Jesus Guzman. Carlos Corporan was disastrously unsuccessful attempting to bunt the runners over, popping out on a good sliding catch by Derek Norris near the Oakland on-deck circle. Kazmir's day was done, however, when he walked Jonathan Villar to load the bases.
Bob Melvin called on Dan Otero to try to get the ground ball double play. Instead, Robbie Grossman hit a sacrifice fly to very deep right field, giving Josh Reddick no chance to gun down Jake Marisnick, who scored to make it 3-1. Jose Altuve grounded out to short to end the seventh.
Scott Feldman efficient, except for Jed Lowrie
Both pitchers had done well, but the A's seemed to be letting Scott Feldman stay in the game with quick at bats, never giving the weaker Astros bullpen a chance to enter the game in the early innings:
In the seventh, it looked like it was going to be business as usual after Derek Norris flew out on the first pitch to center, and Josh Reddick grounded to second on a 1-1 pitch. Jed Lowrie, however, likely provided the at bat that later chased Feldman from the game in the ninth inning, getting a single to extend the inning.
Lowrie may have given the #Athletics there only possible prayer of knocking Feldman out of the game with that 7-pitch single.— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) September 6, 2014
Sam Fuld struck out looking, but Feldman was up to 94 pitches.
First, the A's bullpen continued its extremely impressive performance, really the sole bright spot in this awful funk, which entered the game with a 2.19 ERA and .195 opponents batting average over its last 38 games, going back to July 24. Dan Otero tossed a good eighth inning, only allowing a Chris Carter single and retiring the rest. Luke Gregerson preserved the 3-1 deficit, only allowing a walk to Jonathan Villar.
Scott Feldman returned in the ninth on 101 pitches. Josh Donaldson took strike one, and also took strike two which should have been driven out of the park somewhere. And then successfully took two more pitches before driving a single to right to get the leadoff man aboard.
Adam Dunn came up, and hopes were high that the new guy would provide the game-tying bomb.
But alas, Dunn hits it far but to the wrong part of the park. A flyout to center brings Derek Norris up for the #Athletics.— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) September 6, 2014
Derek Norris, 0-for-3 to that point, was the next hope.
Norris with a huge base hit up the middle that moves Donaldson to third! Billy Burns will pinch-run for Norris at 1st as the tying run.— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) September 6, 2014
And here came Chad Qualls.
With memories of swinging on ball four and overall unclutchiness dancing through our heads, and postseason dreams slipping further and further away, Josh Reddick did this:
AND REDDICK TIES IT UP WITH A 2-RUN DOUBLE OFF THE TOP OF THE WALL #Catharsis— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) September 6, 2014
And Jed Lowrie capped it off on this walk-off single to left. Josh Reddick actually stumbled a little bit out of the gate, but Mike Gallego trusted Reddick's speed to send him home, and defensive substitute Alex Presley threw a four-hopper toward the plate to make it not even close:
A final note on Chad Qualls: He has conceded 19 earned runs this season. 12 have been to the Athletics.
Chad Qualls just invoked Pedro Martinez. Called the As his daddy.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) September 6, 2014
The A's go to 80-61 and the magic number to clinch a postseason berth falls to 18 with 21 to play, thanks to the loss by the Detroit Tigers at the hands of the San Francisco Giants earlier today. The A's lead the Tigers by 3.5 and the Mariners for home field in the Wild Card game by 2.5, and trails the Angels by 5.5. The Angels and Twins are in progress, and the Mariners and Texas Rangers are in a rain delay.
Tomorrow, the homestand finale as Jason Hammel takes on Dallas Keuchel, with first pitch at 1:05 pm. Once again your final, the Athletics walk it off against the Houston Astros, 4-3.