OAKLAND — The A’s live and die by the aggressiveness of their third base coach so many times throughout the season.
In the second inning Tuesday, Ron Washington waved Marcus Semien around third and it didn’t end well, with Astros left fielder Colby Rasmus throwing out Semien as he tried to score from second on Ryon Healy’s single.
Flash to the bottom of the 10th. Washington surveyed the situation, rolled the dice again, and this time it came up a winner, as Semien raced around third and scored ahead of a throw from shortstop Carlos Correa on Josh Reddick’s single to shallow left.
The A’s beat Houston 4-3, stealing a game they seemed destined to lose, then should have won in the ninth but didn’t. Manager Bob Melvin spread so much credit around afterward, and a slice of it went to Washington, whose right shoulder is always loose and limber, ready to windmill a runner toward the plate.
“At the time you’re thinking (it’s risky to send Semien in the 10th),” Melvin said. “But if you watch the play, (Correa) is off-balance. He’s got to throw on the run or in the air like he did. … It’s one of those basketball shots, like ‘No, no, no … yeah,’ when it goes in. Because it actually was a good call if you look at all the variables involved. That takes experience with a third base coach, and aggressiveness.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's beat Astros on Reddick's walk-off hit in 10th]
Correa was shifted around toward second base with Reddick up in the 10th and Semien running at second. Reddick knocked a soft single through the hole at short. Correa covered a lot of ground to retrieve the ball, and as Washington waved Semien around third, it seemed it would be a very close play at the plate. But Correa couldn’t get much on the throw, and Semien slid in safely, giving the A’s their fourth win in five games since the All-Star break.
Washington said he knew from the Astros’ defensive alignment, with Correa shifting against Reddick, that he would be aggressive on a ball hit through the shortstop hole.
“I didn’t even see Correa in the picture until he threw that ball,” Washington said. “But Marcus took off and I just made sure Marcus didn’t break stride. Once he caught the ball, he couldn’t stop and try to throw it. If he would have threw that ball to the plate and (got) Marcus, it would have been one of the greatest plays.”
The A’s fought back from a 3-0 deficit. They tied it on Coco Crisp’s one-out RBI double in the ninth, and could have potentially won it that inning if not for Crisp’s monumental blunder. Crisp thought his drive off the right field wall had actually gone out for a homer, he said. He broke into an easy trot, strolling around second as the ball came back to the infield and getting tagged out in a rundown.
“I thought it was a home run, until I realized it wasn’t, and it was like, 'Uh oh, backslash, exclamation mark,' all that stuff,” Crisp said. “Thankfully we won the game, because that could have been a big play if we -- it was a big play regardless -- but if we had lost …”
Reddick said he thought the ball was a homer from the dugout, and he was confused when Crisp stopped his trot around the bases. As for Semien’s mad dash home on Reddick’s 10th inning single, Reddick thought that was equally bonkers. He said one thought went through his head as Semien rounded third:
“No, no, no.”
“I was wondering why he was going and being sent in the first place,” Reddick admitted. “Then I saw the throw and I was like ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’.”