OAKLAND –- What was shaping up as a crowd-pleasing victory before a packed house quickly turned ugly for the A’s. And yes, this scene has played out before.
The bullpen coughed up a one-run lead in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay. The sudden turn of events robbed Sonny Gray of a victory and a sold-out crowd of the ending it was hoping for on Star Wars fireworks night.
Gray turned in eight strong innings and turned over a 4-3 lead to the 'pen. But Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a go-ahead, two-run double off Drew Pomeranz, who relieved Pat Venditte with two runners aboard and one out.
The A’s latest bullpen collapse came on the same day Sean Doolittle was activated from the disabled list. Doolittle never warmed up leading up to the ninth.
This scene has played out countless times in 2015, as the A’s have taken a lead into the late innings only to see the relief corps give it up.
The A’s went down 1-2-3 in the ninth and fell to 0-5 on fireworks nights this season, which always draw the biggest, most charged-up crowds to the Coliseum.
Starting pitching report
It was the first time in Gray’s career that he allowed as many as three homers. In fact, he had surrendered as many as two just twice. But he gave up just five hits total, struck out four and walked two. His ERA rose from an AL-low 2.04 to 2.10.
Manager Bob Melvin didn’t tip his hand before the game on whether Doolittle would get the call in a save situation for his first outing since coming off the DL. Obviously the call was to look elsewhere. Venditte gave up a one-out walk to Daniel Nava and a double to Logan Forsythe before Pomeranz entered and gave up the game-winning double to Cabrera.
At the plate
The A’s trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, only to take the lead over a span of just four pitches. Mark Canha led off the inning by taking Erasmo Ramirez deep to center on an 0-2 pitch to tie it. After Stephen Vogt flied out, Brett Lawrie jumped on the first pitch and lined a base hit to left-center that he stretched into a hustle-double. Then Josh Phegley drilled the first offering from Ramirez over the wall in left for a two-run homer that put the A’s up, 4-2.
In the field
After the A’s go-ahead rally in the sixth, Billy Burns kept the energy going by extending for a beautiful diving catch in left-center to rob Forsythe leading off the seventh.
Second baseman Eric Sogard turned in his own highlight-worthy effort with a diving stop of Evan Longoria’s grounder in the fourth, scrambling to his feet and getting the out at first.
Star Wars fireworks night drew a crowd of 35,067 –- the A’s fourth sellout of the year.
Kendall Graveman (6-9, 4.27) will try to snap a seven-start winless streak Sunday in the homestand finale. He’ll oppose Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.02). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.