After striking out four times Saturday night, Curt Casali delivered a game-winning double into the left field corner in the 10th inning to score Steven Duggar from first, capping a long, exciting ballgame with a 6-5 Giants win over the A’s.
Burch Smith pitched the bottom of the tenth for Oakland (46-33) after a Matt Chapman sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th scored Ramon Laureano to put the A’s up 5-4. But in the bottom of the 10th, with Brandon Crawford on second, Steven Duggar smacked a line drive up the middle to tie the game 5-5, then became the winning run when Casali lined into the corner and the crowd went wild. Tony Kemp waited for the ball to bounce back to him off the wall, but it stopped dead and that split second cost the A’s another chance at the plate and a series loss after two straight.
Chapman drove in three of the A’s five runs on Saturday. He made a throw home to send the game into extra innings but his second throw home in the tenth was not enough. He spoke about the heartbreaking loss in front of local fans:
“Yeah, it sucks. Definitely losing that game. It’s been a fun two games considering the atmosphere… We are playing a team with the best record in baseball for a reason. That’s a good team over there. They are a lot like us where they are going to scratch and claw and fight until the very end. They found a way to put two on us in the last inning. I felt really good going into that inning. I felt confident in Burch [Smith] to close the game out and that’s baseball. Sometimes things just don’t go your way but going down the first two games of the series like that, definitely sucks.”
Saturday’s game was another low-scoing night with great pitching from both sides. The A’s were able to score a run in the third when Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single to right center and landed on second when Giants center fielder Steven Duggar made a fielding error. Tony Kemp grounded out but advanced Andrus to third and he scored on a wild pitch to Matt Chapman. LHP Alex Wood escaped the third inning leaving two runners stranded down 1-0.
Frankie Montas loaded the bases early in the second but escaped the inning scoreless forcing a groundout too Wood to end the inning. He didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning when he gave up a full-count walk to Duggar who stole second (6) and LaMonte Wade Jr. cleared the bases when he smashed a home run (5) into the right-field stands to put the Giants (50-26) up 2-1. Montas’ night came to an end after five full innings, where he allowed two runs on two hits, struck out five and walked three batters.
Chapman explained the back and forth leads all night. The Giants have the best record in baseball but the A’s had the best record in the American League prior to this week and it was a hard fought game from both sides:
“There was definitely a lot of back and forth in that game. Both games have been really tight and they were able to take that one yesterday and today but we jumped on a 1-0 lead and then they hit that two run homer and then we tied it up. Then we took the lead and they came back so a lot of lead changes. I always expect these teams to be close. It doesn’t matter if both of us are in first place… no matter how the teams are playing, this series seems like it’s always close games and really good games.”
Matt Olson was 0-for-4 Friday and picked up his first hit of the series, a single in the sixth. Jed Lowrie beat the shift and grounded to left field, sending Olson to third. Wood was relieved after giving up back-to-back singles. He allowed just four hits in his 5-1/3 innings. Wood struck out eight batters and only walked Chapman before he was relieved by Dominic Leone.
Leone’s second pitch of the game was wild but Olson decided to stay on third while Lowrie landed on second. Luckily it didn’t matter. Mitch Moreland pinch hit for Chad Pinder (1-for-2) when the righty took the mound and singled to right field to tie the game 2-2.
Bob Melvin explained the frustration to lose two straight in close games:
“What is the frustration level? It’s frustrating. After Chappy’s homer it felt like we were in a good spot to win the game. We had our best guys coming in the game and they came back and we end up losing the game so its frustrating.”
Yusmeiro Petit pitched the bottom of the sixth facing the heart of the Giants order. He made it interesting but escaped scoreless. He allowed a walk and a single to put runners on first and second with two outs before Lowrie made a beautiful dive to snag a Duggar line drive and end the inning.
LHP Jarlin García started the seventh and retired the A’s No. 8 and 9 batters before walking Laureano and being relieved. Zack Littell tried to get the final out of the inning with Chapman at the plate. The second pitch Littell threw was a Chapman bomb to right field that put the A’s up 4-2.
Chapman is finding his rhythm at the plate and is happy to be contributing. He touched on the feeling he had when he hit the two-run homer:
“It felt good for sure. Hitting that home run to put us up, it felt like it was a big moment in the game and the crowds energy was awesome and seeing my teammates get excited, that was a lot of fun. At that point I thought we had a pretty good chance to win the game there but that is baseball and that’s a really good team that we are playing against… it was fun for the moment but they got the last laugh for sure.”
Sergio Romo took the mound for the first time in the Battle of the Bay series with a two-run cushion in the bottom of the seventh. Romo retired the No. 8 and 9 batters but walked Wade Jr. on a full count. He wasn’t too happy to be relieved, but he received a standing ovation from the Giants fans and tipped his cap on his way back into the dugout.
LHP Jake Diekman relieved Romo, and his first pitch hit Mike Yastrzemski in the shoulder to put two on with two outs. The very next pitch to Wilmer Flores was a line drive to left scoring Wade Jr. to make it 4-3. Diekman threw three straight strikes to strike out Darin Ruf swinging to end the inning with a one-run lead.
Melvin explained the bullpen and how the A’s used their best guys and sometimes they just don’t have it:
“Sometimes it’s not perfect but what is the alternative? So, those are our best guys and sometimes they are going to give up some runs and you stick with them until you feel like you need to do something different but even after those guys came out, we gave up some runs too. So it’s easy just to say switch things around but you have to consider the alternative.”
After LHP José Alvarez threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 inning to hold the A’s at a one-run lead, Donovan Solano stepped up to the plate with one out in the eighth and hit a bomb (3) to left to tie the game 4-4. Every batter Diekman faced in the eighth worked a full count, but Bob Melvin was ejected after arguing Diekman’s fifth pitch to Duggar, which was called a ball instead of a third strike for what could have been the second out. Diekman ended up walking Duggar before Lou Trivino entered, retiring the next two batters to end the inning with the game tied.
Melvin explained his ejection and kept it short after the game:
“Yeah I didn’t like the strike zone. I thought it was a bad strike zone tonight. Then he showed up Murph and got in his face, turned around and got in his face so I didn’t like that.”
The A’s couldn’t get a base runner with Tyler Rogers on the mound and Trivino had to avoid a walkoff facing the Giants top of the order. Wade Jr got the inning started with a single to left that missed Chapman’s glove by inches. Trivino retired the next two batters and kept the winning runner on first. Ruf was down 0-2 in the count but drew a walk to advance the potential winning run in scoring position. Crawford stepped up to the plate 0-for-4 and a chance to walk it off. The crowd went wild with Giants fans all on their feet chanting “Lets Go Crawford!” Crawford lined a single to shallow left, where Kemp threw to Chapman who hooked it home and Sean Murphy tagged out Wade Jr. to send the game into extra innings.
Chapman explained the first throw home to get the final out of the ninth inning, then taking the lead and losing in the walk off:
“That ball was hit hard off the bat so I knew we might have had a chance at home plate. Tony [Kemp] made a good throw and we were able to get that out at home. Obviously if they score there they win. We were definitely excited going into the dugout and then being able to go up one run on them like that. You always feel good going into that last inning but with starting a runner on second base in extra innings, you never know.”
Two lefties will battle the mound for the final game of the Battle of the Bay. Cole Irvin (5-7, 3.98 ERA) and Sammy Long (1-0, 4.20 ERA) will both look to give their team the series win. First pitch set for 1:05 p.m.