by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Oakland Athletics (16-22) closed out their nine-game road trip on a high note with a 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays (16-19) on Sunday. The victory also gave the A’s the series win two games to one.
Trailing the Rays 6-5 with two out in the top of the ninth inning the Athletics played like a team that refused to lose. With two out, Billy Burns hit a 1-2 pitch into center field for a double. That brought Danny Valencia to the plate. Valencia had already hit two home runs in the game. Valencia hit the first pitch to him from reliever Steve Geltz over the left center field wall for a two-run home and gave the A’s a 7-6 lead.
Oakland closer Ryan Madson came on in the bottom of the ninth and needed just four ptiches to retire the side and preserve the win for the A’s. It was save number 10 of the season for Madson.
This is a significant win for the A’s for three reasons. First, they won a game on day when their pitching ace Sonny Gray did not have a great outing. Second, the A’s had to come from behind to win on Sunday proving to themselves they can fight their way back into games. Third, Oakland won a one-run game. For whatever reason, this is a team that finds itself in one-run games frequently. The Sunday win works as a reminder they can win those close game.
In the batter’s box
Danny Valencia was the man with the bat today for the Athletics. He hit three home runs on Sunday to bring his total to five for the series in Tampa Bay and for the season to date. Valencia drove in five runs and scored three. He hit in the number three spot Sunday as Josh Reddick was given the day off versus a left-handed starter.
Coco Crisp played center field and hit lead off Sunday. Crisp went 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored.
With Reddick given the day off, Billy Burns played right field. Burns went 1-for-5 with one run scored. That one hit was the double in the top of the ninth that kept the inning alive for Valencia to hit what became the game-winning home run.
Chris Coghlan was brought in to pinch hit for Tyler Ladendorf in the top the seventh inning. Coghlan took a 0-1 pitch over the left center field wall for his fifth home run of the year.
The A’s scored seven runs on 12 hits while leaving six men on base. They struck out eight times and walked twice.
Brandon Guyer was the leader at the plate for the Rays on Sunday. He had a lead off home run in the bottom of first inning off Sonny Gray to tie the game at 1-1. Guyer came to bat in the bottom of the second with two runners on when the inning was extended by a two-out error. Guyer hit the ball into the left field stands for a three-run home run. Guyer finished with five RBI on the day.
Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 for the game. Longoria hit his seventh home run and a double on Sunday.
The Rays scored six runs on six hits and left four runners on base. Rays batters struck out nine times and walked two times.
On the mound
A’s starter Sonny Gray had another tough outing on Sunday. Gray has not recorded a win in his last four starts. He had a no decision on Sunday. Gray worked 5.2-innings giving up six runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out four and walked two. Gray gave up three home runs (Guyer 2, Longoria). He threw 99 pitches (67 strikes). Gray’s ERA now stands at 5.84.
The A’s bullpen came in and did the job for their team on Sunday. Ryan Dull relieved Gray in the sixth and worked 1.1-innings. Dull allowed no runs or hits. He struck out four and walked none.
John Axford pitched the eighth inning for Oakland. Axford gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out one. Axford (3-1) is credited with the win as he was pitcher of record when the A’s scored in the top of the ninth.
Ryan Madson threw a perfect ninth inning needing just four pitches to retire the side. Madson now has 10 saves for the A’s.
The A’s were able to overcome a defensive miscue that took place in the bottom of the second inning. With two out and catcher Hank Conger at bat, the A’s defense went into a shift overloading the infield to the right. Second baseman Tyler Ladendorf was playing in shallow right field. Conger hit the ball to where the second baseman would normally be stationed. Ladendorf charged the ball and was unable to field it. Conger was safe. The next hitter Guyer hit a three-run home run. The error resulted in three unearned runs.
The A’s lead the American League in errors with 28.
The A’s return home to begin a three-game home series with the Texas Rangers on Monday night. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 6.09) will start for Texas while the A’s will go with LHP Sean Manaea (0-1, 11.37).
On Tuesday, Texas will send LHP Cole Hamels to the mound to face the A’s LHP Eric Surkamp.
In the finale on Wednesday afternoon, LHP Martin Perez will start for the Rangers while LHP Rich Hill will take the hill for Oakland.