Donaldson gets 'Pie and Gatorade' treatment
Josh Donaldson has three walk-off hits this season after his bases-loaded single won Tuesday's game against the Angels for the A's. (CSN CALIFORNIA)
Sonny Gray allowed just one run in six innings, but did not factor into the decision Tuesday in Oakland. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND – The A’s summoned a vibe from last season to jump back in the win column Tuesday night.
Josh Donaldson lined a one-out walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to lift Oakland to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. It was reminiscent of the late-inning magic that was a hallmark of last season’s division-winning squad, and the victory lowered the A’s magic number to six to clinch this year’s A.L. West title.
The heroics capped a night in which the A’s struggled offensively after putting up a run in the first. Josh Reddick, the ring leader of the 2012 pie-in-the-face celebrations, handled the celebratory duties Tuesday, throwing a pie in Donaldson’s face as the A’s third baseman conducted a postgame TV interview.
It was Donaldson’s third walk-off hit of his career.
Alberto Callaspo led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Michael Kohn. Jemile Weeks pinch-ran for him and alertly tagged up and advanced to second on Stephen Vogt’s deep fly ball to left. Jed Lowrie pinch-hit for Eric Sogard and was intentionally walked. Coco Crisp then worked a walk in an impressive nine-pitch at-bat. After Daric Barton struck out, Donaldson delivered the game winner on an 0-2 pitch.
Starting pitching report
Sonny Gray got off to a rocky start when Mike Trout drilled a 1-0 pitch deep over the center field wall in the top of the first. After that, the Angels didn’t cross home plate against the rookie. Gray went six innings and limited them to five hits. He struck out five and walked one.
Gray’s other two battles with Trout made for good theater. He retired the MVP candidate on a fly out to center in a seven-pitch at-bat during the third. Then Trout came up with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth. Gray got him swinging on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball up in the zone. Then he retired Josh Hamilton on a fly to left to escape the inning.
Gray also benefited from a highlight-reel play from right fielder Josh Reddick. He extended for a diving catch in right-center to rob Mark Trumbo of extra bases in the sixth, one of the finest catches of the year from the Gold Glover.
It was an eventful seventh inning for the relief corps. Ryan Cook got two quick outs but allowed J.B. Shuck’s single. Then Cook hit Howie Kendrick with a 3-1 pitch and plunked Trout in the back with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball to load the bases.
That set the stage for lefty Jerry Blevins to enter the game and face Angels cleanup man Josh Hamilton. Advantage: Blevins. He ran the count to 3-1, then came back to strike Hamilton out on a curve. The 2010 AL MVP now has seven strikeouts in 11 career at-bats against Blevins, who sprung off the mound pumping his fist as he headed for the dugout.
Grant Balfour turned in an impressive top of the ninth, striking out the side.
At the plate
The A’s matched the Angels’ first-inning run as Brandon Moss drove a ground-rule double to right that scored Coco Crisp. From that point, it was a scoreless night until the ninth.
Oakland went just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings.
In the field
Reddick’s diving catch to lead off the sixth got a big reaction from Gray, who proceeded to retire the Angels 1-2-3 in the inning and finish his night on a strong note. Third baseman Josh Donaldson committed a throwing error in the fourth when his throw to first pulled Daric Barton off the bag. It didn’t cost the A’s.
A turnout of 18,771 was announced, and the boos grow louder for Mike Trout with each home run he hits this series.
A.J. Griffin (14-9, 3.81) tries to win his fifth straight start in Wednesday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale. He’ll be opposed by Jason Vargas (8-7, 4.20).