At 47-29 the Oakland A’s have the best record in baseball. As most everyone in baseball knows the A’s have depth and are well-rounded, with a young (lefty Scott Kazmir is the rotation veteran at just 30 years of age), dominant pitching staff and some legitimate power hitters in Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes. Tales of the strength of Cespedes’ arm are now storied and it appears as though Donaldson, a top four finisher in the MVP voting last season, will not be snubbed from this year’s All-Star Game.
The A’s have done it multiple times this season, shown that they can make comebacks in the late innings, get the walk-off or game winning hits in extras. In their most recent four-game series with the Boston Red Sox they did it again. The Athletics have proven that no matter what, they may be down in a game but they are never out.
Taking three of four from the Red Sox this weekend, winning 4-2 on Thursday. On Friday the A’s capitalized on mistakes by Red Sox pitcher Andrew Miller in the eighth inning to win the game 4-3. Yet, it was the second half of the series was much more noteworthy, the most significant game being the one that the Athletics lost.
In game three of the series the Red Sox struck late tying the game at 1-1 in the top of the eighth inning on a bad call by the home plate umpire, Quinn Wolcott. On a would have been strike out pitch by set-up man Luke Gregerson to Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli, both Napoli and Wolcott maintained that the ball had hit the dirt. This was NOT the case as replays clearly showed that the ball landed in the glove of catcher Stephen Vogt. 95.7 The Game’s John Lund tweeted this telling photo.
— John Lund (@JohnLundRadio) June 21, 2014
Unfortunately for the Athletics balls and strikes are not review-able. Manager Bob Melvin told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser,
“My feeling is that if there’s a play that needs to be reviewed, you should review it, You just can’t on that one.”
After the game Gregerson made a good point,
“It was pretty clear to everyone. It was pretty simple. All he had to do was look at the ball, no scuff mark on it.”
The A’s should have been out of the inning but on the next pitch the Red Sox tied the game. With Dustin Pedroia on third, Gregerson threw a pitch that bounced away from Vogt. In a gutsy move Pedroia took off and scored the tying run. The A’s proved, as they have been doing most of the season, that they had what it takes to comeback and win. With Alberto Callaspo on second in the bottom of the tenth Coco Crisp lined a single into right that sent Callaspo home in typical A’s walk-off style and the rest was just pie. Cespedes’ took over the “pie in the face” duties for the injured Josh Reddick getting Crisp not once but twice. The A’s won 2-1.
Sunday, as previously mentioned was a different type of game. Although the A’s lost 7-6 in ten innings it was their most significant comeback effort of late. The Red Sox scored early and often, putting the A’s in a 6-1 hole entering the eighth inning. A three-run rally in the bottom of the inning gave the A’s momentum going into the ninth.
Solo shots by both Vogt and pinch-hitter John Jaso tied the game. Jaso’s homer came with two outs off of Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and the game once again went into the tenth inning.
The Red Sox got lucky however. David Ortiz, known to most as Big Papi, hit a lead-off home run off of A’s reliever Fernando Abad and that was all the Sox needed to defeat the A’s 7-6. It was just Papi being Papi in my book. That stuff happens, just ask the Yankees about the 2004 ALCS! The bottom of the ninth left the A’s in a rough spot having to move players around because of yet another injury to catcher Derek Norris by a batter’s backswing, this time it being the Red Sox Jonathan Herrera. The A’s had to send in their closer Sean Doolittle to bat with two outs in the bottom of the inning. It was Doolittle’s first major league at-bat, he grounded out to second and the A’s were done for the weekend.
Both the last two games of the series should be notable to every other team around the league. Even though one of the games was a loss for the Athletics, the A’s still proved that they may be down in a game but they are never out of a game.
Jaso put it best after Sunday’s loss,
“The whole comeback thing definitely is a little bit more uplifting when it comes to a loss. Taking three out of four in a series, you’ll take that any day, unless it’s the last game of the season and you need that win. But to lose in that fashion where we’re not just giving up, where we’re fighting to the end, that’s how you want to lose a game.”
So watch out MLB, the A’s are coming and even when you think you have the game locked down …. your lead is never safe.