OAKLAND – There was laughter all around Saturday as A’s players gathered around a clubhouse TV and watched highlights of their 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Of course there were smiles. When you have as many things go wrong as the A’s did over 10 innings and still pull out a win, you know you’re on a roll.
The bullpen couldn’t nail down a much-deserved victory for starter Dan Straily, as Sean Doolittle allowed two runs in the seventh inning to make it a 3-3 game.
The A’s stranded a season-high 18 runners on base and failed to cash in on two different bases-loaded opportunities in the ninth. Then Brandon Moss drilled a liner in the 10th that appeared to be a game-winning hit with the bases loaded, only to see Chicago second baseman Jeff Keppinger spear it with a diving catch.
But one batter later, Josh Reddick drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run and the A’s had their fourth walk-off victory of the season. Reddick’s celebratory pie in the face surely tasted as sweet as ever.
“It took a little longer than usual today and it was painful at times,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said afterward. “But at the end of the day, it’s a win right?”
No doubt. And the A’s have been winning a lot lately.
They’ve taken 13 of their last 15 games and they’re riding a seven-game home winning streak, which is their longest since a 10-gamer from Aug. 11-Sept. 1, 2006.
The A’s pulled back to within two games of first-place Texas in the American League West, and their 33-24 record ties their best 57-game mark over the last 22 years (they also did it in 1992, 2003 and 2004).
Should Oakland feel lucky to stash away a ‘W’ after going 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position?
Perhaps. But there were some concrete things for the A’s to feel good about it.
Straily turned in his third straight strong effort, and that’s gotta make team officials breathe easier as they make due without left-hander Brett Anderson in the rotation. Straily went six innings and gave up one run, striking out eight and walking zero.
He jumped ahead in the count early and then got the White Sox to flail at his breaking pitches as they dove out of the strike zone. Straily, who shuttled between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento earlier this season, went 1-2 with a 7.27 ERA over his first five major league starts of the year. But over his past three, he is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA (2 ER in 19 IP).
“Every time you go out there and find success, you just keep building and building off that,” Straily said. “(Even) when you have a down day, you find something there to help build confidence as well.”
Chris Young, spelling Coco Crisp in center field, snapped a 0 for 19 streak with an RBI single in the second and finished 3 for 6 with two doubles.
That lifted his average to a still-puny .194, but it’s important for the A’s that Young find some sort of offensive rhythm. The oft-injured Crisp has already logged one D.L. stint this year due to a hamstring injury, and he’ll require more days off even when healthy. Young is the best bet to take his place.
Jed Lowrie turned in a four-hit day in Crisp’s leadoff spot. Josh Donaldson had two hits to bump his batting average to .324. And Nate Freiman, seeing time at first base against left-handers, is 7 for 17 with eight RBI over his last six games.
He recorded his first major league triple in the fifth, driving a ball off the center field wall to score Donaldson.
Freiman, not one of the A’s speedsters, was laughing along with his teammates after the game as he watched highlights of himself running the bases.
“I kinda cringed,” he said.
Reddick, normally the instigator in delivering postgame pies after walk-offs, this time received one from Crisp. It wasn’t a smooth operation, as Crisp took forever to reach Reddick, who was doing an on-field interview.
“I'm usually pretty quick about it,” Reddick said. “I talked to Coco and he said he didn't know how to do it. He went to three different exits and they said, ‘You gotta go this way.’”
Just another mishap in a day full of them, but the A’s can live with it.