If there’s one thing the A’s do well this season, it’s late-game drama.
And they’ve taken fans on quite a roller coaster in those nail-biters, doling out near equal doses of euphoria and disappointment.
They entered Wednesday tied for third in the American League in walk-off games played (12). Then they went out and engaged in another one, eventually coming out on the short end of an 8-6 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels. They’re now 6-7 in walk-off games this season.
Consider the back-and-forth nature in which this one played out. The A’s jumped ahead 1-0, then 2-1 and then 4-2 over the first four innings, only to see the Angels answer back each time to tie the score off Oakland starter Kendall Graveman.
They fell behind 6-4 but then mounted rallies in the eighth and ninth to tie it off the Angels’ bullpen. Generally not known as the most patient bunch at the plate, the A’s worked a series of quality at-bats in both innings. They drew three walks in the eighth, including a bases-loaded free pass to Jed Lowrie that pulled them to within 6-5. Three more walks came in the ninth off temporary Angels closer Cam Bedrosian, and Stephen Vogt came through with a game-tying RBI single.
But even those eighth and ninth inning rallies were counter-balanced by disappointment. Ryon Healy bounced into an around-the-horn double play to end the top of the eighth and keep the A’s behind 6-5 at that point. In the ninth, the A’s tied it and had the bases loaded again, when Danny Valencia hit a check-swing comebacker to the mound that turned into a home-to-first double play. The Angels won it in the ninth when Albert Pujols hit a game-ending two-run homer off Ryan Dull.
The A’s went 7-3 on their 10-game homestand coming out of the All-Star break. Then they hit the road and won two of three at Texas, pulling within eight games of .500 at 47-55. They’ve since lost five straight, and bring a 2-6 mark into Thursday’s finale of this nine-game, three-city trek.
They’ve traded their best starter of 2016 (Rich Hill) and arguably their best overall position player (Josh Reddick). Their roster has been in a constant shuffle all season long due to injuries, and more young players are likely to get called up for a look over the final two months of the season. No matter how many factors change, count on the A’s continuing to provide the entertaining (excruciating?) late-inning theatre.
It’s the only way they know how to do it.