Three times before the seventh inning Friday night, an A’s fan waving a Portuguese Heritage Night sign was shown on the jumbotron emphatically throwing back 16-ounce beers.
Perhaps it was the continued struggles of Lou Trivino that drove her to the keg. Either way, for her sake, one can only hope she was still coherent when the 10th inning rolled around and Khris Davis ended the night the same way he started it — with a homer.
Behind a walkoff blast from Davis in the 10th, the Athletics (93-61) marched one game closer to their first playoff appearance in four years. A comeback by the long-eliminated from contention Twins (71-82) preceded Davis settling things for good, 7-6.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.
Once again, the Oakland crowd — all 27,558 in attendance — reigned chants of “MVP. MVP. MVP” on Davis as he strode, jersey ripped off, away from the plate following his latest bit of heroics. He said:
It’s incredible. I’m glad we have their support, we need them to come out and support us because we’ve got some work to do.”
Of the chants, Manager Bob Melvin said he could definitely understand those who held that sentiment:
“I was one of them. You look at his numbers and what he’s meant to this team, he definitely is in the conversation.”
Davis has certainly meant a lot to the A’s. When one talks about “value,” and which player is most “valuable,” it’s impossible to leave the Oakland designated hitter completely out of the conversation. In A’s wins this season, Davis is batting .280 with 27 home runs and 80 RBIs.
In losses, his average is .203, and he has driven in just 38 runs, though he has homered 18 times.
He has had as much to say about the outcomes of his team’s games as any other player in the league. Not to mention, he now leads the home run race by four and is closing in on 50.
Of the impressive power mark, which has only been met once before in Oakland A’s history, Davis said:
“It would be a nice achievement. But first and foremost, I want to get deep in the playoffs. That means a lot more.”
Davis began the scoring with his MLB-leading 44th homer, a two-run shot to right-center in the first inning. He smashed No. 45, off Twins reliever Matt Magill (L, 3-3, 4.00 ERA), to a nearly identical location nine innings later once again proving to be the provider of power in “Hero-Town,” as the ads placed all over Oakland would suggest.
Melvin called Davis’ power “one-of-a-kind,” adding:
“He gets us going today, like he’s done so many times, early in the game then finishes it off. That’s a pretty good bookend night.”
The stories between those bookends featured much trial and tribulation.
Trivino, now at 72 innings this season, carried a 1.16 ERA through his first 45 appearances. In the seven weeks, 22 games and 17-2/3 innings since, the rookie right-hander has allowed 17 runs, including four Friday — he had held opponents to seven runs in his 54-1/3 innings prior to Aug. 8.
After taking over with a 4-0 lead in the sixth, Trivino allowed all four batters he faced to reach and eventually score. While the last two came in on a double surrendered by Shawn Kelley the first two were tallied on a Robbie Grossman homer (5), the fifth Trivino has served up since Aug. 8 after having been tagged for three before.
Including his 5-1/3 with Triple-A Nashville, Trivino has now worked a total of 77-1/3 frames. He last reached that high a mark in 2015, with Advanced-A Stockton, when he began the campaign as a starter.
Melvin acknowledged Trivino’s struggles, but said the club’s trust in him remains steadfast:
“He’s just having a little tough time right now. Looks like the ball was pretty straight today; usually has the good sink at a high velocity. … Right now, at least the last couple times out, he’s struggled a little bit. That’s going to happen over the course of the season. We have a lot of faith in him.”
By the time Kelley put the finishing touches on the top of the sixth, Minnesota had turned a 4-0 deficit into a 6-4 advantage. But the advantage was short-lived.
Instead of Joyce, Moya faced Oakland pinch-hitter extraordinaire Mark Canha, who promptly unloaded a game-tying two-run homer (17).
Melvin continues to be impressed by Canha’s ability to perform in a tough role. The skipper said that, given his performance this season, Canha is deserving of an everyday role — if one were available for him. For now, he likes the utility man’s abilities as a big bench bat:
“He’s ready for every situation: he’s a lefty killer — you look at his numbers off of left-handed pitching, certainly the home runs. He’s a real weapon for us later on in the game, and has been.”
Canha made sure Kelley wouldn’t be stuck with a loss, but the combined efforts of the two righty relievers erased a solid start to the game — another — by Liam Hendriks and Chris Bassitt.
Hendriks, making his seventh opener start, once again posted a scoreless first inning, though this one came with a little more of a battle than the previous. It took the Aussie 28 pitches, but he worked around a walk, single and two full counts. And Bassitt followed with four scoreless on one hit with one walk and five strikeouts.
Blake Treinen (W, 8-2, 0.83 ERA) worked a perfect ninth and 10th to earn the win. In doing so, he pushed his consecutive hitless inning streak to 13-1/3, two outs shy of the Oakland record set earlier this season by Sean Manaea.
The beer-guzzling fan, who was no doubt a section celebrity by the time the night ended, found her way on the scoreboard again in the eighth, slamming a fourth beer. Then a fifth, in the 10th. And while she was the one who received stadium-wide notoriety for her impressive exploits, Oakland fans by the thousands will likely be joining her in the libations once the A’s clinch a playoff berth — their magic number now stands at three.
With a 10-8 victory over the Orioles in New York, the Yankees remain 2-1/2 games ahead of the A’s for the American League’s first Wild Card spot. … The Rays bounced back from a rough loss Thursday night to top the Blue Jays 11-3 and stay 6-1/2 games back of the A’s for the second Wild Card spot. … The Astros clinched a playoff berth with an 11-3 win over the Angels, and maintained a 4-1/2-game lead over the A’s in the race for the AL West division title.
Fresh off his first loss as a member of the Athletics, Mike Fiers (12-7, 3.38 ERA) takes the hill Saturday night as the A’s look to keep their hopes of clinching a playoff berth at home on Sunday alive. Minnesota will oppose Fiers with right-hander Chase De Jong (0-1, 3.68 ERA), in search of his first big league win.
Mark Canha’s pinch-hit homer in the sixth gave him a career high 17 on the season. His previous career high of 16 was set in 2015, his rookie season. … Friday marked the 22nd multi-home run game in Khris Davis’ career, his seventh this season. It was Davis’ fourth career walk-off home run.
Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.