A’s Use Trusty Walk-Off, Returning Cespedes to Salvage Win vs. Orioles


It’s been a rough 10 days or so for the men in green-and-gold, after their struggles in Tampa Bay and Boston, and losing the first three games at home versus the Baltimore Orioles it was starting to look a little bleak.  The A’s needed to get themselves a victory in the worst way possible, not necessarily because failure to do so would result in being swept by the O’s, but because it would mean their 5th straight loss and 9th in the last 10 games.

Apr 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Eric Sogard (28) scores the winning run on a sacrifice hit by Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp (4) during the tenth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at O.co Coliseum. Oakland won 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The last three times the Athletics have won, Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher, so it makes sense that they pulled out the victory today with him on the hill.  The Orioles jumped out in front by a 5-0 margin as Colon struggled in the 4th and 5th innings, it certainly seemed assured at that point that the A’s were going to lose yet another game.  Colon would make it through 6 innings giving up the 5 runs on 9 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts.

The A’s took a huge bite out of the Orioles lead in the 6th inning with an RBI double by Coco Crisp, an RBI fielder’s choice by Seth Smith, and a 2 run double by Josh Donaldson.  With the game tightened up at 5-4 it seemed inevitable that the A’s would catch up with all the momentum swinging their way.  A Seth Smith 2 run home run in the 7th inning would put the A’s ahead for a moment.  Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour each surrendered runs in their respective innings that put the Orioles back in front.  That set up the dramatic late inning heroics by a man who had just returned from the disabled list, the man they call “La Potencia”, Mr. Yoenis Cespedes.

In a swing that very much reminded me of Adrian Beltre, Cespedes went down and got a Brian Matusz breaking ball and launched it into the left field bleachers to tie the game at 8 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  The importance of having Cespedes in the lineup cannot possibly be overstated here, and he showed that today.

Jerry Blevins pitched a clean top of the 10th inning to set up the A’s to try and win the game in the bottom half.  Eric Sogard led off with a single, and Adam Rosales attempted to bunt him into scoring position and did so, reaching base himself in the process.  Then Coco Crisp came to bat and laid down a bunt of his own.  Third baseman Manny Machado attempted to cut down Sogard at third but a bad throw resulted in the ball getting by J.J. Hardy as he coverd the bag.  Sogard had no clue where the ball was, and as Mike Gallego and every fan in attendence jumped around and screamed at Sogard to break for home, he finally realized the ball was in left field and sprinted towards the plate.  He dove in as the throw was off line, and the A’s came away with a much needed victory.

It may not have been pretty, and perhaps the A’s had no business winning this game, but they did and that’s a good thing.  I still would like to see more comfortable victories than walk off wins like this, but I’ll take what I can get.  Now the Los Angeles Angels make their first trip to the O.co Coliseum in 2013, and they’ve been struggling, losing 3 of 4 to the Mariners in Seattle over the weekend.  The A’s need to make sure not to be slumpbusters for the Halos, and instead look to further bury them in the standings.