With one swing of the bat, Matt Olson brought the A’s back into the game as the annual Labor Day game was holding an ironically appropriate, laboring pace on Monday afternoon.
Olson’s heroic effort would be nullified as the Angels regained the lead in the top of the 11th inning to hold the A’s off, 11-9.
Despite turning into a marathon midway through, Monday’s game began as what looked like the second round of the July’s electrifying Home Run derby.
With the temperature at the Oakland Coliseum slightly elevated to 78 degrees at first pitch and the humidity reaching all the way to 64 percent, balls carried further than usual in the typically pitcher-friendly park.
During the first four innings, the A’s and Angels combined for four homers. Of the four, three were hit by the Halos, two of which being hammered out courtesy of catcher Martin Maldonado.
Getting to A’s starting pitcher, Chris Smith, early, Maldonado got two hits in his first two trips to the plate. Maldonado accumulated three RBI’s on the pair of bombs, giving his Angels an 8-5 advantage by the end of the fourth inning.
When asked what went wrong after the game, Smith immediately took blame in giving up the big hits:
“The home run ball got me from the start. … I tried not to let their main guys beat me and get carried away but then the lower part of the lineup got me. Especially Maldonado.”
Including Maldonado’s pair, Smith raised his already large total of home runs allowed to 16 in only nine games this year.
Starting with Smith’s exit in the fourth, the next seven inning would see the entrances and departures of 20 different pitchers combined for each side.
The Angels would set an American League record for the most pitchers used in a game, backing starter Parker Bridwell with Jesse Chavez, Eduardo Paredes, Jason Gurka, Noe Ramirez, Cam Bedrosian, Yusmeiro Petit, Blake Parker, Fernando Salas, Troy Scribner, Jose Alvarez and Keynan Middleton.
In a game where no pitcher could record an out, the two teams combined for 30 hits with Los Angeles notching 14.
Oakland ended the game with 16 hits of their own, though they were unable to make contact when it counted leaving seven runners stranded.
Except in one instance.
In a 1-1 count, with two outs in the ninth and a runner on base, Olson stood at the plate with the A’s down my two. Turning on a hanging splitter, the first baseman drove the ball to left field, clearing the wall to tie the game at nine.
The clutch bomb was Olson’s second home run of the day and his 14th of the season in 41 games played.
Olson touched on his early found success at the plate:
“I wouldn’t say surprised myself. Did I necessarily see it happening this quickly? No, I mean not 100 percent but I know that I had it in me.”
The ensuing two innings presented much of nothing with neither team reaching pay dirt. That narrative changed though once Angels right fielder, Kole Calhoun, hit a two run triple to give the Angels a 11-9 lead after in the top of the 11th.
Oakland would be unable to find magic again as their bats went cold again. After getting two men on base, Khris Davis, who had opened the afternoon’s scoring with a three-run double in the first, grounded into a double play, ending the game.
Even though his team couldn’t come through in the tough moment, A’s skipper Bob Melvin said he was pleased with the fight in the ball club:
“We continued to fight. When you’re going through a losing streak like that, it shows some grit. It’d be nice to finish it off though.”
The Angels stayed in contention of an American League Wild Card spot.
For the A’s the chance to play spoiler was, well, spoiled. In an essentially meaningless game, the A’s are now 25.5 games behind in the AL West and 14.5 games back for the second wild card spot.
The A’s and Angels will return to the Coliseum on Tuesday to play the second game of their three game series.