Two halves of an inning, split into two different frames smacked right in the middle of Monday's affair at the Oakland Coliseum. That's all the Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays needed to bring everybody to the edge of their seats.
All of the action happening on Monday's series opener between the best team in the MLB and the hottest one took place in the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth frames as the A's came out on top at the end of the day, winning 4-3 and earning a league-leading sixth consecutive victory.
Oakland (18-50) entered the series opener boasting a delightful five-game winning streak having defeated the Pirates (twice) and the Brewers (three-game series sweep) last week and triumphed over the MLB-best Rays (48-21) thanks, mainly, to rookie catcher Shea Langeliers.
Langeliers hit a three-run double in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded scoring all men waiting on them. It wouldn't take long for the A's to add one more run to that lead, with Ryan Noda following a grounding-out Esteury Ruiz to the plate to bag a single and score Langeliers.
Nobody other than Jace Peterson hit the ball twice on Monday for the A's, but when Noda and Langeliers connected they surely inflicted all possible damage on a hurt Rays club that had (almost) no answers.
Brent Rooker and Jonah Bride didn't hit it once but they kicked off the fifth with back-to-back walks allowed by Rays' starter Zach Eflin. The hurler was replaced following Noda's single with the A's up 4-0 and with two men out.
For the A's, James Kaprielian (2-6) got his second win of the season throwing six full innings in which he allowed five hits and three runs while striking out four and walking three batters.
Kap got into some trouble through the sixth allowing a single to Luke Raley to get things going. Ruiz helped Kap with a ridiculous grab, but a steal, a walk, another steal, and finally a homer by Jose Siri brought the Rays back to put up a 4-3 on the scoreboard.
The A's decided to keep Kaprielian on the mound for one final out and he delivered, forcing Taylor Walls to ground out and complete his outing. Rookie reliever Ken Waldichuck got the save pitching from the seventh inning through the end of the game allowing two hits but striking out five men with impeccable resolve.
Oakland will host the Rays on Tuesday in the highly-anticipated Reverse Boycott game that will take place in parallel with the delayed special session deciding the future of the A's in Oakland or Las Vegas.