Another 2020 grand slam walk-off win for the A’s. No big deal, right?
This time, Stephen Piscotty swatted the first pitch he saw in the ninth over the center field fence to lift the Oakland A’s (7-4) to a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers. Jesús Luzardo shined in his MLB starting debut to keep Oakland in a tense, well-pitched game.
Veteran Edinson Vólquez walked Matt Olson on four straight balls to start the ninth, and it only got uglier for him. Matt Chapman singled, after he earlier hit the tying solo homer in the seventh inning.
Barreto pinch ran for Olson on second, and Mark Canha walked for the third time on Tuesday night to load the bases. Robbie Grossman popped out and the Rangers relieved Vólquez and Jesse Chavez only needed one pitch to allow four runs to lose the game for the Rangers (3-6).
Bob Melvin has been impressed with Piscotty all season and said any kind of hit in that situation, bases loaded with no outs, will bring Piscotty confidence that is much needed after coming off an injury last season.
The A’s got a little hate after their first grand-slam walk off win earlier this season and knew how to celebrate for their second. Piscotty had never hit a walk-off grand slam before — not even in little league — and talked about the experience:
“It’s a lot of fun, pretty unique for that to happen. Especially with the short amount of time, but we will take that…. When was my last one? I think that was my first ever. That’s definitely my first one.”
Piscotty recorded his first walk-off homer last year, and said this one was even better. He said the team did a decent job celebrating with social distancing this time, and it’s moments like tonight that keep him coming back:
“In that situation, I was just trying to get it out to the outfield, I knew I had done that. I had no idea it went out…. When I hit it, I knew it was deep enough to score a run so thats what the excitement was about and all of a sudden I got to first base and I was pretty surprised.”
Luzardo (ND, 5 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 2.31 ERA) made his MLB starting debut and threw a two-hitter in his five innings. His first MLB save was against the Texas Rangers last season, and he had another first against them this season as well. Luzardo had impressive pitches and even more impressive defensive plays.
Bob Melvin on Luzardo:
“He was terrific. We got his pitch count up a little bit, 85 was about as far as I would have gone with him. It just didn’t make sense to send him back out the sixth time up. He certainly did his job.”
In the first inning, a rocket came towards Luzardo’s head and he caught it on a bounce and threw to first for the out. Then in the second inning, a ball bounced high over the mound and he spun around to make the catch then fired a rocket to first to get the out.
Luzardo has more than three different pitches he can use as a weapon and is a terrific athlete. He showed it in his first start. Melvin on Luzardo’s debut:
“I don’t have much to say to him. He’s got a smile on his face, you’d never know it was the day he was pitching. First big-league start, certainly if there were nerves, he didn’t show it and a lot of the times the nerves will show in the first inning and it was anything but …. Good change-up, good breaking ball right away. He is special and the fact that he has a lot of confidence at a young age… If I had that kind of stuff, I probably would too.”
The third inning was interesting in both the top and bottom. Both teams led off their No. 7 batter and both had first their team’s first hits of the night.
Kiner-Falefa shot a base hit to center and reached on second when Garcia grounded out. A wild pitch by Luzardo was saved by Sean Murphy, who kept the ball in front of him. Murphy reached to his right to grab the ball and Kiner-Falefa thought it was going to be harder to find and stole second. Murphy made a beautiful throw and Chapman slid over third to get the out. This was the biggest play of the night and really changed the game. The play at third was the second out of the inning and, instead of having one out and a runner in scoring position, there were two outs and no one on base.
Melvin compared Murphy to a wall:
“He keeps it in front of him. He gives himself a chance, recovers quickly and makes a huge out. Because a game like that, the way Lynn and Luzardo were pitching, anybody on third base at that point and one-run at that point could be the difference.”
Murphy will have a rest day Wednesday and will play the day game on Thursday. Melvin explained Murphy has all the qualities of a terrific, everyday MLB catcher and said he knows the hits will come for Murphy, he is not too worried about that.
Luzardo was happy the team has his back when it comes to saving him:
“It [Murphy’s play] was huge. I said thanks for saving me again Murph, cause its not the first time and it won’t be the last. I had a little laugh about it. It was definitely huge for me, he gave me a confidence boost going into the next guy and throughout the game.
Luzardo also had to thank Chapman and Olson. He explained that knowing the guys behind him will make plays allows him to pitch to contact and not have to go “K-hunting.”
Yusmiero Petit relieved Luzardo in the sixth inning and that’s when the Rangers earned their only run of the night. Joey Gallo placed a beautiful bunt to the left to get on first with two outs. Todd Fraizer hit a line drive down the left field line and, after Grossman hid in the corner for a while, he finally got the ball into the infield. Semien threw home but not in time. Murphy noticed Fraizer rounding second and put Fraizer in a rundown, where he was finally tagged out. The scoring on the play read: 7-6-2-3-5-3. The Rangers took the lead in the sixth inning 1-0.
Matt Chapman led off the seventh inning, swinging at Lynn’s 99th pitch of the night to hit a solo homer to tie it 1-1. The Rangers starting pitcher Lynn lasted 6-1/3 innings.
Liam Hendriks (W, 1-0, 1.69 ERA) pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.