By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–When it comes to post All-Star break success, the A’s have no peer. With Bob Melvin pulling the strings, the Billy Beane-led front office making the deals, not to mention the baseballs flying over the fence, the A’s know how to put the finishing touches on a 162-game season.
On Sunday at the Coliseum, the A’s laid the foundation for the 2019 version of the climb up the American League standings with a 3-2, walkoff win over the White Sox.
Baserunner Chad Pinder, looking to take second base on Ramon Laureano’s ground ball in the hole, instead raced home with the winning run when shortstop Jose Rondon’s throw sailed past second and into foul ground as the alert Pinder crossed the plate.
“I was just trying to beat the throw, and as I’m sliding, I saw the second baseman lunge a bit,” Pinder recounted. “And from there, I was trying to get ahold of Matt (the third base coach) and see what he sees. He sent me, so I went home.”
After the Sox were basically no-shows on Friday and Saturday, losing both days by a combined score of 18-3, starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez set the tone by limiting the A’s to three hits with seven strikeouts through six innings.
Lopez had allowed at least one home run in ten consecutive starts, while the A’s had homered in 14 straight games, but that intersection was bypassed when Lopez exited with a 2-1 lead.
A’s starter Brett Anderson stepped on a bat in foul territory, allowed a tie breaking homer to Eloy Jimenez, and exited in the seventh after a Yolmer Sanchez double. But other than those unfortunate moments, Anderson was steady in pursuit of his tenth win of the season.
Once Lopez departed, the home run ball appeared. Laureano got the A’s even leading off the seventh with his career-best 18th off reliever Evan Marshall.
“We felt like he had a chance to be a 30-homer guy,” Melvin said. “Maybe he’s on pace a little sooner than we expected.”
The A’s have won 12 of 15, and surpassed Cleveland, Texas and Boston in the ever-changing wild card race. The A’s are within striking range of the Astros in the AL West as well.
Given that, the Sunday morning’s timing of the deal with the Royals to acquire starting pitcher Homer Bailey was brilliant. Bailey was scratched during warmups in Kansas City, and will be available on Wednesday afternoon for his first start with the A’s.
The deal for the 33-year old former Red who pitched a no-hitter against the Giants came at the cost of 2017 compensatory pick Kevin Merrell, an infielder with speed currently at AA-Midland.