If there was one thing the Oakland Athletics were not expecting heading into last night’s game, it was to play in their second 15 inning game in
less than a week. The A’s won the game in 15 in their usual fashion of a walk-off win, which happened to be their 13th of the season (most in the majors). Despite the excitement of another crazy walk-off win, the game treated itself to some other interesting and fun story lines along the way.
The game marked starting pitcher Dan Straily’s major league debut and for those who do not yet know of Straily, going into last night’s match-up, he led all of professional baseball in strikeouts this season with 175 during his work with the Sacramento River Cats, the AAA affiliate of the Oakland A’s. 30,169 fans stormed the Coliseum to watch Straily’s debut and he immediately has a large fan base. His stat line through the game includes 6 innings with one earned run, 5 hits,Ā 5 strikeouts and 102 pitches thrown. He also allowed only one walk. Though his numbers tonight don’t necessarily reflect his high strikeout rations throughout the season in AAA, it is certainly a very respectable major league debut for any pitcher.
With the help of an RBI double by Brandon Inge, a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick, and solo homers by both Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter, the A’s had a comfortable 4-1 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays. After a lights out 6th and 7th innings pitched by RP Grant Balfour, everything seemed all and well going into the 9th inning. Manager Bob Melvin did the correct thing, by putting All-Star closer Ryan Cook into the game to get the save. Unfortunately, this was not the end for the A’s. Ryan Cook was one strike away from getting a save and closing the game down. He had an 0-2 count to Jeff Mathis, and then threw 3 straight sliders in the dirt in attempt to strikeout the free swinging Mathis, who had already looked silly with his swings against Dan Straily earlier in the game. This would not be the case this time as Mathis took all three pitches in the dirt, and worked the count full. Ryan Cook then through a fastball, and it was hit out of the park for a game tying 3 run homer in the top of the 9th.
The game would then go into the 15th, as the Athletics could not put anything together at the plate, despite loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th. Strong relief performances from Neshek, Blevins and Blackley, as well as strong defense, kept the A’s in the game until the 15th inning when they would finally score and win another in walk-off fashion. Jemile Weeks led off the bottom of the 15th with a triple and was hit in by Coco Crisp with a walk-0ff sacrifice fly ball to win the game. Crisp got his third walk-off of the season and the team got their 13th. After the game, crisp got 2 buckets of freezing cold water dropped on him, and two pies in the face from Josh Reddick, who wore a spider man costume. The craziness continues, but the real test will be today and the next day, as the A’s will try to win after last night’s exhausting, 15 inning game.
With this win and an Angels loss, the A’s have sole possession of 2nd place in the American League West being 4.5 games back from the Texas Rangers, and are first in the AL wild card.