ANAHEIM – When all else failed Tuesday, the A’s hit.
In the end that won out over the poor starting pitching, the head-slapping baserunning blunders and the shaky ninth-inning relief. The A’s walked away with a wild 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in 11 innings because they kept smacking the ball around against seven Angels pitchers.
Oakland racked up 16 hits on a night it fell behind and fought back to take the lead only to give it up again – twice.
They finally won on Josh Donaldson’s double down the left-field line in the top of the 11th that scored Jed Lowrie to snap a 9-9 tie. And to cap this wackiest of evenings, it was, of all people, Jim Johnson who delivered two scoreless innings to nail down the victory and save manager Bob Melvin further bullpen depletion.
It wasn’t easy, as Johnson put the winning runs on second and third when he retired Howie Kendrick on a groundout to short to finally end the 4-hour, 12-minute affair.
The end result was the A’s eighth victory in their past nine games, and they’re now 7-1 on a nine-game road trip that ends tomorrow night with one last game at Angel Stadium.
That contest has a lot to live up to after this one.
Starting pitching report
Dan Straily found trouble early and he never established any rhythm, lasting just 3 2/3 innings before A’s manager Bob Melvin came with the hook. Kole Calhoun led off the bottom of the first with a single and Mike Trout drove him in with a double down the left-field line.
The right-hander did well to get a shutdown inning after his teammates gave him a 3-2 lead in the top of the third. But things came undone in the bottom of the fourth. Chris Iannetta drove a two-run double to the wall in left. Yoenis Cespedes initially was given an error for dropping the ball off the carom, but it was later changed and Iannetta was rightfully credited with two RBI. After retiring Erick Aybar on a groundout, Straily caught too much of the plate with a 1-2 pitch and Calhoun crushed a two-run homer to right that made it 6-3 Angels.
Straily left having struck out three, snapping a streak of three straight outings in which A’s starters had struck out nine or more. Remarkably, that was the first time since at least 1914 that three A’s starters had nine or more strikeouts in a row.
Drew Pomeranz did a terrific job in relief of Straily, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings and retiring eight of the nine batters he faced. That steadied the ship for Oakland at the time and allowed the offense to chip away at a 6-3 deficit.
After the A’s mounted a comeback, the Angels scored a run off Ryan Cook and Dan Otero in the eighth to close Oakland’s lead to 9-7.
On came Doolittle looking to salt it away. He gave up Calhoun’s leadoff double in the ninth, then Trout hit a 2-1 pitch way over the wall in left-center to tie it. Doolittle came in having given up a run in just one of his seven outings. It marked the first blemish since the A’s went to their closer-by-committee approach. Doolittle and Luke Gregerson had converted all three save opportunities since Jim Johnson was taken out of the ninth-inning role. But Johnson restored order by containing the Angels in the 10th and 11th.
At the plate
The A’s entered the game having gone 0 for 23 with runners in scoring position over the previous three games. They were a different club in that department Tuesday. When they went to bat in the top of the eighth, they trailed 6-5. They proceeded to bat around in a four-run rally – batting around on the strength of four singles and three walks – and led 9-6 by the time the third out finally was recorded.
The A’s went 7 for 20 with runners in scoring position, and though the Angels’ bullpen leant a helping hand, credit the A’s for swinging the bats early against Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards too. They scored three in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit, getting an RBI single from Eric Sogard, a groundout from John Jaso that scored another and a run-scoring double to left from Lowrie.
Sogard delivered another RBI single in a two-run seventh, though he was picked off first on the play, one of two baserunning mistakes the A’s made.
In the field
Craig Gentry, filling in for Coco Crisp in center, made a great catch against the wall to rob Albert Pujols and end the seventh. In the ninth, he got close to Calhoun’s double to deep left-center but couldn’t haul in the catch, and Doolittle gave up the game-tying blast to Trout on the next batter.
The announced turnout was 34,887 on an uncharacteristically cool night in Anaheim.
The A’s close out their nine-game road trip with Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. series finale. Tommy Milone (0-1, 5.40) opposes Tyler Skaggs (1-0, 2.40) on the mound.