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Clinging to their postseason lives, A’s sweep Houston behind Canha walkoff

Three straight A’s wins over the Astros this weekend helped Oakland avoid playoff elimination, capped by a walkoff 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon.

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If the A’s (85-71) lose just one game, they will kiss the playoffs goodbye. Mark Canha said being swept by Seattle, the second place team in the AL West, left a bad taste in the team’s mouth: 

“Just feels good that we are going out fighting and that feels good. Still baseball to be played and I think this gave us good momentum, some good vibes.”

Bob Melvin said the team is playing with a lot on the line, and believes it was the key to sweeping the series after being swept themselves:

“Well, we are getting big hits when we need to, at this point. Last series, we didn’t. Just offensively not much at all. Today, not a ton of offense but just enough that we needed. A lot of desperation in what we are doing right now. Not that there wasn’t in the Seattle series but it’s a little bit more in our faces right now.” 

Lou Trivino (W, 7-7, 3.17 ERA) pitched the ninth, allowing singles to Jose Siri and then Alex Bregman with two outs. Siri thought he could score from first, but he thought wrong. A 8-4-2 relay forced the final out of the ninth inning. Siri was called out at home but first-place Houston (91-65) challenged the call. The review made it clear that Sean Murphy made the tag and, instead of a 4-3 ballgame headed to the ninth, the game stayed tied 3-3.

Canha played right field and explained what was going on through his head during the play, and how huge it was for Tony Kemp to make a great throw home: 

“It kind of scared the hell out me when it happened because I took a peek as he was getting to third base and I just saw the third base coach was holding him and then I heard a bunch of commotion and I was like oh my God, what is happening? Thank God Tony … got the ball in quickly and he made a great throw and put it right on the money. That guy can fly so if he doesn’t make a perfect play on that one, that could be a bad situation for us.”

Murphy singled to lead off the ninth before Vimael Machín attempted his second sacrifice bunt of the game. It ended up being a single when Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel and pitcher Ryne Stanek (L, 3-5, 3.53 ERA) both attempted to dive for the ball but it dropped to put two on with no outs.

Starling Marte tried to sacrifice home the winning run as he did on Saturday, but his fly out was not deep enough in right field. Olson was intentionally walked for the second time of the day to load the bases before Stanek was relieved. 

Canha explained the team’s emotions and mindset after the sweep:

“It sets us up as good as we could possibly get ourselves set up. I think we really needed to grab some momentum and grab some good feels. To sweep a good team like that, it feels really good. Especially given the last homestand and what is on the line. We just have to keep fighting. I think everyone is pulling in the same direction, so it’s good to see.”

With the bases loaded, Ryan Pressly replaced Stanek. Canha swung at his first pitch, roping a line drive to left center to win the ballgame and put an end to the 3 hour, 37 minute game for the sweep. The A’s couldn’t enjoy their walkoff very long on Saturday aftrer they realized Anrus was hurt, but they sure did celebrate Sunday. Canha’s seventh walkoff of his career was an important one. 

The A’s scored first Sunday when Seth Brown doubled to lead off the second. Kemp singled with two outs, driving in Brown and giving the A’s lead 1-0. 

The Astros finally got a hit off Paul Blackburn in the fifth inning with two outs. Castro picked up an infield single when Matt Olson couldn’t complete a 3-1 play, and two more singles followed. Siri picked up Houston’s third-straight two-out single to drive in the tying run when Josh Harrison made a beautiful dive at shortstop but couldn’t make the flip to Kemp at second.

Deolis Guerra came in for Blackburn, giving up a homer (11) to Alex Bregman to make it 2-1. A single and double followed to make it 3-1 before Guerra retired the next two batters. A walk put his day to the end as Yusmeiro Petit was called on to get the final out in the seventh.

Houston starter Jake Odorizzi allowed one run on four hits in four innings. Odorizzi walked Matt Olson twice, the second was intentional, but Houston waited until he had a 3-0 count to tell the umpire. Javier struck out five straight and kept the A’s scoreless in the fifth and sixth, but gave up a single to Kemp to lead off the seventh and then hit Yan Gomes to put two on with no outs.

Machín replaced Harrison at shortstop in the sixth and put the runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Marte grounded out, scoring Kemp to give the A’s a 3-2 lead. Javier was relieved by Phil Maton, who walked Olson to put runners on the corners before Canha singled in the tying runner, Skye Bolt who pinch ran for Gomes to tie the game at 3-3.  

Andrew Chafin allowed a leadoff walk followed by a single but escaped the inning scoreless with two strikeouts. Martin Maldonado entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and caught Stanek’s clean 1-2-3 inning. 

Series Wrap

Friday: A’s 14, Astros 2 – Frankie Montas allowed just two hits in seven innings Friday night and the A’s had their own fireworks show during the game, scoring 14 runs on Fireworks night. Montas made history Friday night when he threw his 200th strikeout of the season, which had been done by an Oakland A’s pitcher in 20 years when Barry Zito did it in 2001. 

Starling Marte drove in four runs in his four-hit game. Matt Olson also had a four-hit game and Chad Pinder hit a grand slam in the seventh. Pinder pinch hit in the seventh and hit a grand slam off Brooks Raley to become the first A’s pinch hitter to hit a grand slam since Scott Sizemore did it against the Texas Rangers in 2011.

Saturday: A’s 2, Astros 1 ˜Sean Manaea threw five innings of shutout baseball, but so did Framber Valdez. Both pitchers battled on the mound and Manaea only allowed three hits and retired 19 of 21 batters. Starling Marte hit a walkoff double to give the A’s a 2-1 victory to clinch the series but most importantly, gave themself more life.

Andrus singled and scored from first on the double, but as the team celebrated they quickly noticed Andrus was down. He had to be carried off the field with his teammates and felt his ankle pop while rounding third and he ended up with a fractured fibula on his left ankle. He won’t be available for the rest of the season but was happy to get the win for his team. 

Melvin on the injury and heart Andrus has: 

“I don’t know that I’ve managed a player that’s tougher than Elvis. Pound for pound, this kid brings it every day. Probably played hurt way more than anybody knew, whether it was wrist, ankle or whatever. He just refused to come off the field.” 


Elvis Andrus and Jed Lowrie are done for the season. … Josh Harrison is expected to play shortstop for the remainder of the season. … Vimael Machín is back in Oakland to help in any role needed. … Matt Chapman was hitless during the series. … Whether the A’s play in October or not, they put up a good show for fans over the weekend and reminded everyone they are no joke. 

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