Instant Analysis: A's fight back to walk off on first-place Astros
Walkoff in Oakland
OAKLAND — The A’s can right a lot of wrongs with one swing of their bat.
Twice they tied the game with homers Friday night against the Astros, then Jed Lowrie singled home the game winner in the ninth inning for a crowd-pleasing 9-8 walk-off victory over the American League’s winningest team.
The A’s trailed 7-3 when Marcus Semien tied it with a grand slam in the seventh. It was 8-7 when No. 9 hitter Boog Powell went deep to lead off the ninth to knot the score again. Semien followed with a single, Matt Joyce walked and Lowrie lined a single into left-center off Astros closer Ken Giles. Semien broke aggressively from second, though it appeared the ball might be caught, and that jump allowed him to score the winning run easily.
As teammates streamed out of the dugout to greet him between first and second, Lowrie — the ex-Astro — thrust his helmet over his head behind him in celebration.
In a disappointing overall season, the A’s certainly have shown a knack for late-inning comebacks, and Friday’s win was their 10th walk-off victory of 2017. Until those heroics, it was shaping up as Josh Reddick’s night. The one-time A’s fan favorite hit a two-run homer, then doubled home the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth off Blake Treinen.
The Astros had been 6-0 at the Coliseum before Friday, and the loss snapped their overall seven-game winning streak.
Long Ball Blues
The bumpy ride continues for Jharel Cotton in his first full major league season. He gave up a trio of two-run homers and wound up charged with a career-high tying seven runs allowed over five innings. It was the second start in a row that Cotton allowed three home runs. He’s given up 12 over his past 33 2/3 innings.
As the A’s evaluate their candidates for next year’s rotation, Cotton’s status is increasingly murky given this year’s struggles. After two encouraging recent starts, including one at Minute Maid Park against these Astros, he’s experienced more rocky times in the past two outings. His ERA rose to 5.82 on Friday.
Doing It All
After earning his first career ejection Wednesday, Matt Chapman had a big game Friday. He drilled a curve from Collin McHugh for a two-run homer, his 11th of season, in the second. He singled in his next two at-bats and finished 3-for-4, encouraging for the rookie third baseman who came in hitting .161 over his previous nine games. Chapman also turned in an excellent play on defense, backhanding Jose Altuve’s sharp grounder and firing to second for a force out.
The 'D' Shows Up
Chapman’s was hardly the only great play from Oakland’s defense. Center fielder Boog Powell made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Marwin Gonzalez of extra bases, if not a home run. Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie each made diving stops in the infield to prevent hits. Their shaky season-long glove work is well-documented. Then every once in a while the A’s turn in an effort like this to show you what they’re capable of.