After three hours and fifty-eight minutes, Stephen Piscotty put an end to a pitching battle that had featured 11 relievers working 14-2/3 scoreless innings.
Piscotty led off the bottom of the 14th launching his first career walk-off hit, a solo home run (5) that crept just over the out-of-town scoreboard in left field giving the A’s (17-21) a 5-4 win over the Reds (15-22) at the Oakland Coliseum Wednesday night.
Things didn’t start off as a pitching struggle.
Brett Anderson and former A’s ace Sonny Gray allowed a combined eight runs before the end of the fifth. But both bullpens took over and silenced the two offenses.
After receiving seven scoreless, three-hit innings from his bullpen, Oakland skipper Bob Melvin was quick to credit Anderson (ND, 4-2, 4.19 ERA) for setting the stage:
“Bret, give him some credit, too. He gives up the four spot, is one batter out of the way of coming out of that game, and the next thing you know, he gives us six innings in a game. For him, to turn it around like he did was key.”
After being held hitless by Mike FIers Tuesday night, Cincinnati relieved its aggression early in the second inning, putting four tuns on Anderson. A rally that included four hits and three walks matched an Oakland two spot compliments of a Jurickson Profar two-run homer (4) — his second long ball in as many nights.
Anderson started the second, following a perfect first, walking the first two batters he faced — on 10 pitches.
It was the veteran lefty’s only bad inning, but he was able to recover in time to get Yasiel Puig, who began the inning, to ground into a force out with the bases loaded.
Melvin had the bullpen working as Anderson battled, but, as he said after the game, there was a longer leash for his starter in the second inning:
“It’s the second inning, you go to your bullpen second inning, it’s tough. It not only hurts you that particular day but down the road, too. If I took him out the second inning of that game, we ended up going 13 innings. … You try to get your starter at least four innings, even if he is struggling, so it doesn’t attack your bullpen for days to come.”
The one thing Melvin had going for him is a rested bullpen, coming off two days of rest — and off-day followed by Fiers’ complete game.
Cincinnati’s first hit of the series came in the form of a second-inning RBI double by Kyle Farmer. The Reds second baseman, playing for injured All-Star Scooter Gennett, made his presence ever evident.
With the bases loaded, two outs and the Reds still holding a two-run advantage, Farmer sent a throw well over the head of first baseman Joey Votto, surrendering a pair of runs.
It was ruled a single, with Piscotty beating the throw, and an error with one of the runs scored registered as unearned.
In the midst of Oakland’s rally, Kendrys Morales singles as a pinch-hitter replacing Khris Davis, who left the game after lingering effects from his left hip contusion suffered on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Morales line-drive single to center came on the final pitch of the night thrown by Gray (ND, 0-4, 4.15 ERA)
Gray lasted just 4-1/3 in his Oakland return, serving up six hits and four runs. He matched Anderson with five walks while striking out three — three more than his opposite number.
Anderson said of his performance:
“Other than the one inning it was pretty efficient and pretty back to customary to how I like to pitch. … It was extremely frustrating at times, borderline embarrassing there in the second, but also satisfying to get through six and keep it close enough to give us a chance. That’s what good teams do… Give us a chance and we came on top”.
He was lifted after six frames. Eleven relief pitchers, 17 strikeouts and 7-1/2 seven-hit scoreless innings later, Piscotty’s put the power with the speed.
He was just looking for something to drive, he said after the game, and was planning for a double trusting his teammates, particularly Ramon Laureano who had already recorded three hits in the game, to bring him in. But the liner just never came down:
“I was trying to drive it. I felt really good about that swing. It was just a line drive, wasn’t really sure it would get out but thankfully it did.”
The A’s, fresh off an all-time franchise-worst 1-8 road trip, have won the first two games of the home stand behind a no-hitter and a walk-off homer, setting the stage for a pair of jubilant celebrations.
“This team likes to celebrate and have a good time and we have had two of those games where we could do that so I think that carries over. This team is great when it plays loose and a tough road trip, bounced back, hopefully were back to loose again.”
Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.82 ERA) make the start for the Reds in Thursday’s series finale. Oakland will counter with Chris Bassitt (1-0, 2.12 ERA), who has been the A’s top starter since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.