At long last the A’s celebrated Saturday night, but their route to victory is not recommended for a manager’s sanity.
It took three pitching changes from Bob Melvin in the eighth inning, then a four-out effort from closer Tyler Clippard before Oakland’s 5-4 victory over the Indians was safely in the bank.
Only then could the A’s savor a win in which they gave up a one-run lead in the seventh, then answered right back with three in the eighth to command a 5-2 lead. From there, they hung on with white knuckles to even this three-game series at Progressive Field. They’ll try to take the rubber game Sunday behind ace Sonny Gray, and head into the All-Star break feeling good about themselves.
Things got tense for Melvin after Edward Mujica, who relieved Eric O’Flaherty in the eighth, gave up Carlos Santana’s two-run homer that shaved Oakland’s lead to 5-4. Drew Pomeranz came to strike out former Athletic Brandon Moss, then Clippard took over from there, getting Giovanny Urshela on a deep fly and then closing out the ninth.
Starting pitching report
Chris Bassitt gave up two run-scoring singles to tie the game after he had a lead. He won’t be happy about that, but the right-hander turned in another quality effort in his third start for Oakland this season. He went 6 1/3 innings, scattered seven hits and gave up just the two runs. Now he just needs his offense to show him a little more love. The A’s lost 2-1 decisions in each of his first two starts, and they scored just two while he was in the game Saturday before striking for three in the top of the eighth.
Bassitt struck out three, walked one and gives the A’s motivation to keep him in the rotation for the time being with Jesse Hahn sidelined by a forearm strain.
The A’s would love Mujica to establish himself as a consistent late-inning presence. But he left a 3-2 splitter over the plate to Santana, and this game got a little too close for comfort for Oakland. If there was a silver lining in that turbulent eighth inning, it was Pomeranz, who bounced back from a rough outing Friday to strike out Moss in a key moment.
At the plate
It looked like more of the same for the A’s much of this night. They scored a run in the first and then didn’t make a peep until the seventh. With the game tied 1-1, Josh Reddick doubled with one out and came around to score on Ike Davis’ double to left-center. After Cleveland tied it off Bassitt, the A’s answered right back with three in the eighth. Billy Butler cued a ball down the right field line for a two-run double, and Reddick scored on the play when the throw from right field found no one. That made it 5-2, and the A’s would hold on.
In the field
A’s left fielder Mark Canha had an adventurous time with Jason Kipnis’ drive off the wall in the sixth that went for a triple. Cleveland would tie the game that inning on Michael Brantley’s RBI single.
28,733 accounted for.
The final game before the All-Star break features a marquee pitching matchup Sunday, with Sonny Gray (9-3, 2.20) going for the A’s and defending Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (4-9, 3.45) going for the Indians. First pitch is 10:10 a.m.