By Charlie O. Mallonee
If the Tampa Bay Rays were in the National League, they would be in the fight for a spot in the Wild Card game. They are not a walkover team anymore. The Rays have an 81-66 record this season. Unfortunately for the Rays and their fans, they play in the American League East where the Boston Red Sox have clinched the division with a 102-47 record to date, and the Yankees are in second place with a 91-57 record.
The Rays brought their “A game” on Saturday night as they handed the A’s their second loss on this six-game road trip 7-5. The game featured 21 hits, 4 home runs, 14 runners left on base, 15 strikeouts and 12 pitching changes over 3 hours and 19 minutes.
The loss was very costly for the A’s in their chase for the AL West crown and the home field advantage in AL Wild Card Game. The Astros beat the D-Backs 10-4 on Saturday and increased their lead over the A’s to 3.5 games. The A’s elimination number is now 11.
The A’s (90-59) had the opportunity to move within a half-game of the Yanks for the top Wild Card slot because the Bombers lost to the Blue Jays 8-7 on Saturday. Because Oakland lost, they remain 1.5 games behind New York in the second Wild Card spot.
It was another bullpenning game for the A’s. Liam Hendriks was “the opener” on the mound for Oakland. He pitched one inning, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Dean Kiekhefer took over in the second inning and things did not go well for him. He gave up two runs (both earned) on three hits. The big blow came when Brandon Lowe hit a two-run homer with one on and no outs. Ryan Dull had to come in to close out the inning.
Chris Bassitt was the “featured pitcher” of the game. He worked 3.0 innings giving up one run (earned) off two hits. He struck out three Rays and walked two.
Yusmeiro Petit was the next man up. Petit gave up a run (earned) off one hit.
The brightest spot of the night for the A’s may have been the performance of reliever Fernando Rodney in the seventh inning of the game. Rodney has really struggled recently but not in this game. Rodney gave up no runs while he struck out one and walked one.
Jeurys Familia would have rather stayed in the hotel. Familia was brought in to pitch the eighth inning. He only gave up one hit, but it was a go-ahead three-run homer by Jake Bauers that ultimately proved to be the game-winning hit. Familia (8-6) was tagged with the loss.
A’s with the bat
- Matt Chapman went 3-for-5 and hit his 23rd home run of the season in the ninth inning off Sergio Romo.
- The other Matt (Olson) had a 2-for-3 night at the plate and he hit his 27th homer of the year in this game.
- Marcus Semien had a 2-for-4 night including a run scored. He was also involved in an incident with the home plate umpire that eventually caused A’s manager Bob Melvin to get ejected.
- The Rays went bullpening as well on Saturday. Ryne Stanek was the opener and then Yonny Chirinos was “the featured pitcher.” He lasted 5.1 innings.
- Andrew Kittredge (2-2) was the eventual winner of the game.
- Bauers not only hit a home run, he recorded four RBIs in the game.
- Brandon Lowe had two RBIs, two runs scored in addition to his home run.
- Kevin Kiermaier hit a triple and posted two RBIs
The A’s will send RHP Mike Fiers (12-6, 3.29 ERA) to the mound to face the Rays’ RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.31 ERA) in the Sunday finale at 10:10 AM PDT.