OAKLAND – The A’s have latched on to an unorthodox formula for victory on this homestand, and it’s enough to drive even the most diehard fan bonkers.
For the second time in five games, they watched closer Tyler Clippard blow a save, only to rally in extra innings to pull out a victory. Ike Davis beat out a two-out infield single to score Josh Reddick in the bottom of the 10th Wednesday, and the A’s emerged with a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
It took a 2-minute, 45-second instant replay review of the final play at first before the A’s could celebrate. What an odd scene it was, as the umpires listened on headsets, A’s players stood frozen in the middle of the infield waiting to see if they could celebrate, and Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” continued playing over the P.A.
When call was upheld via review and the safe signal was given, the A’s players stormed to the dugout – a sort of reverse route to celebrate.
Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t in the dugout for the full experience, having earned an ejection in the fifth. But in the depths of the A’s clubhouse, his stomach had to be tied in knots as this one finished out.
Sonny Gray was lined up for his 11th victory of the season, but Clippard could not shut the door on a 3-2 victory. He issued three walks in the top of the ninth, including Jose Bautista’s bases-loaded free pass to tie the score, but ended his 40-pitch inning with just the one run scoring.
In the 10th, Reddick came up as a pinch hitter with one out and doubled to left. He got to third on Brett Lawrie’s groundout and came home as Davis beat out his single to short on a bang-bang play.
Gray gave up nine hits but just two runs over seven innings, often going about his job with Blue Jays surrounding him on the base paths.
In four of his seven innings, Gray put at least two runners on base. He got a double-play grounder to end the first, then caught some good fortune with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, when Devon Travis smoked a liner right at second Ben Zobrist, who threw to first to double off Danny Valencia.
The A’s broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with Stephen Vogt’s run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly from Jake Smolinski put them ahead 3-1.
Starting pitching report:
Gray did not have his best stuff, but sometimes that makes his outings more impressive. He finds a way to get the job done. And though he was flirting with disaster by putting so many runners on base, he gutted his way through a 103-pitch effort, striking out three and walking two.
Clippard blew his fourth save of the season and threw just 21 of his 40 pitches for strikes. It was an excruciating sequence to watch for anyone pulling for the home team. But considering the circumstances – Clippard loaded the bases with no outs but gave up just the one run in the ninth – it seemed almost a victory at the time.
At the plate:
The A’s hardly were an offensive machine Wednesday, but Smolinski was in the middle of a lot that went right for Oakland. He reached on Josh Donaldson’s throwing error in the fourth and came around to score the A’s first run Josh Phegley’s two-out single, which tied the game 1-1. Then Smolinski delivered his sacrifice fly in the two-run fifth, which gave the A’s a 3-1 lead. That rally was ignited by Billy Burns, who singled, stole second and scored the go-ahead run on Stephen Vogt’s single.
In the field:
In addition to making an impact with his bat, Smolinski is impressing with his corner-outfield defense. Starting in right field against the lefty Doubront, Smolinski made an outstanding diving catch of Chris Colabello’s liner to the gap in the fourth. On Sunday, he made a diving catch in left. Manager Bob Melvin praised Smolinski’s defense and base running before Wednesday’s game.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie started an inning-ending double play that got Gray out of the first. Later, he made an excellent effort to retrieve a comebacker that ricocheted off Gray and get the out at first.
A crowd of 18,827 showed up on Root Beer Float Day. The A’s annual fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation raised $34,709, bringing the 16-year total to more than $448,000 raised.
The month of July agrees with Scott Kazmir (5-5, 2.38). Dating back to July 13, 2013, he is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in the month, a span of 11 starts. He’s scheduled to take the mound in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale, with Drew Hutchison (9-2, 5.19) going for Toronto.