OAKLAND – The A’s had trouble driving runners home all afternoon Saturday, so they gladly took a little help from the Chicago White Sox to finally nail down a 4-3 victory at the Coliseum. Josh Reddick drew a bases-loaded walk off left-hander Hector Santiago with two outs in the bottom of the 10th and Chris Young trotted home with the game-winning run.
That set off an A’s celebration that was equal parts euphoria and relief.
The A’s stranded a whopping 18 runners for the game and failed to win it in the ninth despite loading the bases with no outs. But in the end, they still pulled off their fourth walkoff victory this season.
Reddick received the traditional pie in the face from Coco Crisp during a postgame television interview. It was a victory that should have been stashed away far sooner than it was. The A’s led 3-1 in the seventh when the Sox scored twice off reliever Sean Doolittle to tie the game.
Nonetheless, Oakland won for the 13th time in 15 games and ran their home winning streak to seven games.
Starting pitching report
Bob Melvin talked of Dan Straily’s growing confidence before the game, and how that’s reflected in his body language on the mound and ability to get ahead in counts. True to form, Straily delivered six innings of one-run ball, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. He’s allowed just one walk over his past three starts, and it’s no coincidence he’s also surrendered just two runs over that span.
Straily certainly deserved a ‘W’ on Saturday, but at the very least, it was another confidence-builder for the 24-year-old right-hander, who is filling the shoes of injured Opening Night starter Brett Anderson.
Straily jumped ahead of Sox hitters early and then used his off-speed stuff effectively. He had right-handers chasing his slider out of the strike zone. He dropped in a curve to get left-hander Alejandro De Aza looking in the fifth.
Of Straily’s 91 pitches, 67 were strikes, and that’s a nice recipe for success for any pitcher.
Should Melvin have stuck with Straily to start the seventh? His pitch count was only at 91 pitches, but then again, he hadn’t cracked the 90-pitch mark in any of his previous three starts, so it’s hard to fault Melvin for turning to what’s been a very reliable relief corps.
But Sean Doolittle struggled for a second straight outing. He allowed three straight hits in the seventh, the final one a two-run game-tying single off the bat of De Aza. Doolittle allowed just two runs over his first 23 appearances (23 IP), but he’s now allowed four runs in his past two outings.
Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour, Pat Neshek and Jerry Blevins held down the fort over the final three innings.
At the plate
The A’s could have helped themselves throughout the day by pushing some more runs across and taking advantage of Straily’s outing. They commanded an early 2-0 lead on Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI double to right-center in the first and Chris Young’s run-scoring single in the second. But they were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position over the first nine innings and stranded 15 runnersduring that span.
A bright spot: Jed Lowrie, filling in as the leadoff hitter with Coco Crisp getting the day off, had a career-high tying four hits and reached base in his first five plate appearances. Cespedes had two hits but Jesse Crain struck him out with runners on second and third to end the eighth and keep the game tied 3-3. After that pitch, Sox catcher Hector Gimenez pumped his fist and stared at Cespedes after removing his mask. That’s a gesture you don’t often see and it’ll be interesting to see if that adds any spice to future meetings between these teams.
In the field
Chris Young drew a start in center field and made a graceful running snag of a Casper Wells fly ball in the sixth. It was a reminder that the A’s outfield defense is in good hands even when Crisp is out of the lineup.
It was Yoenis Cespedes Jersey Day. Many of the 26,646 in attendance were quick to slip on their No. 52 keepsakes, but one fan behind home plate stood out with a No. 14 Vida Blue shirt. Some people just HAVE to be different.
Jarrod Parker’s recent form has been a huge bright spot for Oakland. He’s gone seven innings in each of his last three starts and allowed just six runs and four walks total over that stretch. He draws a tough assignment in Sunday’s series finale, matching up against 2012 All-Star Chris Sale. The lefty brings a 23-inning scoreless streak into the game. First pitch is 1:05 p.m.