by Jerry Feitelberg
A’S SNATCH VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT
Holy Toledo!! That’s what the late great A’s broadcaster would say when a great play or a great win would occur on the field. Tuesday night in Houston, the A’s came back from a three run deficit trailing 4-1 in the top of the ninth and they were down to their last strike when they rallied for six runs and beat the Houston Astros 7-4. The Astros have played the A’s tough so far this year and the won the first game of the three game series on Monday night. Had the A’s lost , the team would have had a record of 2-3 on the five game trip to Texas and the best they could hope for was a 3-3 road trip. However, the never-say-die guys from Oakland came to life and stunned the Astros with their comeback.
The A’s sent Jeff Samardzija to the hill and he was opposed by the Astros’ Scott Feldman. The game didn’t start well for Samardzija as Marwin Gonzalez, the second batter Samardzija faced, hit a home run to give Houston an early 1-0 lead. The A’s tied the game in the top of the fifth when Josh Reddick blasted his sixth home run of the year to make it a 1-1 game. The Astros, however, came back and scored two in the bottom of the fifth. Robbie Grossman singled singled and then stole second. Enrique Hernandez followed with a triple and the American League leader in batting and hits, Jose Altuve singled to drive in the third run of the game for the Astros. The Astros scored another run in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 4-1 game and A’s manager Bob Melvin took Samardzija out of the game.
Samardzija went 6 2/3rds innings giving up six hits and four earned runs. He walked two and struck seven while throwing 104 pitches. The Astros Scott Feldman probably had the best game of his career against the A’s Tuesday night going seven inning allowing just five hits and one run. At this point in the game it looked like Feldman was going to pick up the win.
However, we are talking about the Oakland A’s and as Yogi Berra once said “it ain’t over till it’s over.”
It’s also the magic of baseball. A team can look lethargic and beaten for eight innings but then can rally in the ninth to come back and win the game. That is exactly what the A’s did to the Astros Tuesday night. The Astros brought in their closer, Chad Qualls, to pitch. With one out, A’s catcher Derek Norris reached base on an infield single. The next batter was Josh Reddick. Reddick, who had homered earlier in the game, doubled to left center field advancing Norris to third base. Alberto Callaspo, pinch hitting for Eric Sogard, slammed a double to right center and drove in Norris and Reddick making it a 4-3 game. The A’s replaced Callaspo with the very fleet footed Billy Burns. The next batter John Jaso ground into a fielder’s choice, Jaso reached second on a wild pitch and was now in scoring position to tie the game. Shortstop Jed Lowrie walked on a 3-2 pitch to put men on at 1st and 2nd. Quall had two strikes on Cespedes and needed one more strike to win the game but Yoenis Cespedes was able to hit a blooper to right field to drive in Jaso with the tying run. Astros’ manager Bo Porter had seen enough. He brought in left Tony Sipp to pitch to Brandon Moss. With the count at 3-2, Moss singled sharply to right field allowing Lowrie to score the go-ahead run. That was it for Sipp and he was replaced by Jose Veras. Donaldson swung and missed at the first pitch thrown by Veras but he didn’t miss the second one as he blasted a shot to deep center field that went way over the center fielder’s head and two more runs scored. 7-4 in favor of the A’s as the game headed to the bottom of the ninth. The A’s brought in closer Sean Doolittle and he set the Astros down 1-2-3 to secure the win and pick the save.
Winning pitcher was Evan Scribner who pitched the eighth inning for the A’s and Chad Qualls took the loss.
After the game Chad Qualls said “They make contact. They take a lot of pitches Two of the hits they got tonight weren’t hit really hard.-Norris’ to start everything off was a little nubber to third and the Cespedes that tied it was just a jam shot they got to the outfield. They found some holes when they needed to and hit the ball on the screws when they needed to. I just didn’t get it done.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said ‘That’s amazing. For a late-inning at bat, that’s as good as I’ve ever seen in a team.The 27th out, we don’t give that away. It’s an attribute. That’s the way this team is.”