photo from @ESPNStatsInfo: Oakland A’s Stephen Piscotty hits for the A’s second walk off grand slam this season making the A’s the first team in MLB history to hit two grand slams for walk off wins this early in the season.
Texas Rangers 1 -5-1
Oakland Athletics 5- 6- 0
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–It was all about the pitching, and then it wasn’t.
The A’s were riding tall in the saddle this evening when they returned to the O(A)K Corral to face the third place Texas Rangers. Fresh from whalooping the Mariners in Seattle by the lopsided score of 11-1 to take the series against them, three games to one,. the Athletics’ line-up finally had overcome its case of premature anemia, producing a dozen hits, which included two by Khris Davis, one of which was a four bagger. Oakland’s pitching was excellent, allowing only five runs over the last three games of the set-to, all of which went to the men in green and gold.
Jesús Luzardo was making his long anticipated first major league start when he toed the rubber, and he looked good.
The 22 year old lefty mowed down Texas batters, shutting them out on three hits over his five innings of work. His record had been 0-0, 1.35 when he finished his relief appearance last Wednesday in Seattle, but his ERA had ballooned to 4.05 before he took his first warm up toss tonight because MLB had changed a throwing error charged against him in that game to a hit. That made two earned runs out of what had been unearned tallies. When Luzardo was through with his work tonight, his record stood at a much more pleasant 0-0, 2.31.
A quartet of relievers followed Luzardo, each pitching an inning. The first was Yusmeiro Petit, who opened the sixth by retiring the first two men in the Texas batting order, Elvis Andrus and Nick Solak, the latter on a fly ball that reached the warning track in left centerfield.
That brought Joey Gallo to the plate, the only left handed batter Chris Woodward had placed in his starting line-up to face the young southpaw. It was a reasonable decision; all three of Gallo’s home runs this season had come off left handed pitchers. But tonight the Rangers’ slugger chose to bunt against the shift, laying down a neat one to the scarcely defended left side of the infield.
There was nothing Matt Chapman could do but pick up the rolling pellet and hold on to it. Clean up hitter Todd Frazier’s double brought the resourceful Gallo home with the first run of the game.
Oakland faced a formidable opponent in Luzardo’s opposite number on the mound. Right hander Lance Lynn brought with him a record of 1-0 with 17 strikeouts and an ERA of zero over 12 innings, during which his WHIP was 0.75. He held the A’s scoreless for six frames, allowing only two hits, both lead off singles, one by Stephten Piscotty in the third and the other by Tony Kemp in sixth.
But Chapman, who had stood helplessly (and wisely) at third with the ball in his when Gallo outsmarted the A’s to reach first a short while earlier, wiped out the Rangers’ advantage with a lead off blast that carried an estimated 388 feet, just over the De Walt sign in right centerfield.
Two batters later, Lynn was gone, replaced by Jonthan Hernández, who shut the Athletics out through the end of the eighth. His replacement, Edinson Volquez, began the bottom of the ninth by walking Matt Olson, surrendering a single to Chapman, and then walking Mark Canha to load the bases.
With the infield and outfield drawn in, Vólquez got Robbie Grossman to pop an infield fly to first. That was it for Vólaquez. Jesse Chávez assumed the task of ending the Oakland threat. The ex-Athletic threw one pitch to Piscotty. Piscotty swung on it. The ball landed in the straightaway center field seats. It was the A’s second walk off grand slam in the eleven games of this strange season.
Hendricks got the win, his first of the year. Vólquez got the loss, also his first.
The win left Oakland in first place, still a half a game ahead of Houston, who will play a three game series here starting Friday evening. Tomorrow evening, the A’s will face Kyle Gibson, another righty who, like Lynn until tonight, has yet to yield an earned run this season. Gibson is, however, less daunting than Lynn, having lost his only start, in which he gave up five hits in as many innings against the Diamondbacks.
Lefty Sean Manaea, who hasn’t been able to get through the fifth inning in either of his two starts this year, will hope to extend his period of effectiveness, bring down his ERA of 7.00, and enable the A’s to extend their winning streak to five.