After falling behind early in the game, the A’s came through with clutch hits and lock down pitching from the bullpen, two things that have been hard to come by this season, as they clawed their way back into the game and walked-off with a win in the bottom of the ninth.
Resident pie-master Josh Reddick was appropriately the hero, placing a ground ball to the perfect spot in the infield that allowed Sam Fuld to slide across home plate as the winning run in a 5-4 victory over Texas.
“We used to specialize in those here for quite a while. It was nice to be able to come back to tie it, and then come back the next inning and score another run. It was a good feeling,” said Bob Melvin.
Playing in tight games has not been an effective way to win this season for the A’s. Coming into the evening Oakland was 3-16 in one run games including 1-11 at home, and were the only team in MLB to not have a win in their last at bat (0-10).
Killing two birds with one stone on the night might turn the Athletics season around, and breathe some confidence into the clubhouse of a team that has struggled to put it all together on the season so far.
“We were long overdue for a walk-off. I feel like good teams get a lot of walk-offs, hopefully this is where we turn it around,” said Fuld.
After a stint of going 2-14, the A’s snapped a 4-game losing streak, and are now 10-7 over their last 17 games.
“It’s an awesome thing. The pie in the face, the gatorade bath. That’s what it takes to get to the next level. It’s all about confidence,” said Butler.
Jesse Hahn started the game for the A’s and struggled through two scoreless innings before losing control of his pitches, and eventually giving up four runs in just 3 2/3 innings of work. The command of his fastball was the biggest problem of the night, as he tied an A’s record for most hit batsmen in one game with three (Ninth time, last: Barry Zito, 4/15/05).
With Texas pitcher Yovani Gallardo cruising against the Oakland lineup (retired last 10 hitters faced, seven by strikeout), the A’s bullpen stepped up to keep their team in the game. Four relievers combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, with Tyler Clippard earning his first win in green and gold.
“The bullpen was probably the key to the ball game. Jesse was just a little bit off, you can see his ball/strike ration [30 strikes, 38 balls], we were just trying to get him through a few innings. Venditte was terrific, Abad coming in and contributing was big,” said Melvin.
The big names in the middle of the lineup came up with the biggest hits of the night. Ben Zobrist and Butler each tallied an RBI-single that led to the A’s tying the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The A’s will look to win the series against Texas Thursday afternoon. Scott Kazmir (2-4, 3.14) will take the hill against Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-0, 0.00) with first pitch scheduled for 12:45 PST.