OAKLAND COLISEUM — Long extra inning games are nothing new to the Athletics. And if it’s going to take over five and a half hours, it’s only worth it if you get the win.
What seemed like an eternity finally had a happy ending in the 18th inning when Nate Freiman hit the game-winning RBI single off future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera to lift the A’s to a sweep of the Yankees, 3-2.
Video: CSN California
Freiman grew up a Red Sox fan in Massachusetts, so beating the rival Yankees was special. He says this win can have lasting benefits:
A’s first baseman Nate Freiman
Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay
“This is the kind of thing that brings a team closer together. Guys were out there for five and a half hours, battling and competing. … I’ve said this before, even as a Boston fan I’ve always rooted for Mariano and it’s a pretty big thrill.”
Manager Bob Melvin says this is a memorable game for the young Freiman:
A’s manager Bob Melvin
Video: CSN California
“He grew up in Massachusetts watching this guy and to be able to get an opportunity like that, not only an opportunity but come through, it’s something he’s not going to forget for a long time.”
John Jaso singled to right in the 18th with one out when Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought in Rivera. Seth Smith singled to left-center, then Rivera intentionally walked Jed Lowrie to set up a force out at every base.
Freiman’s broken bat bloop single into left scored Jaso to send the A’s to their 11th straight win at the Coliseum.
Jesse Chavez — who hadn’t pitched since June 5 — worked 5-2/3 innings allowing only one hit for the much-deserved win. Chavez was the 7th pitcher used by the Athletics in Thursday’s mini-series of a contest.
When the game began in the early afternoon, Jarrod Parker pitched his seventh-straight quality start, going eight innings and giving up five hits and two runs. He struck out two and lowered his ERA to 4.45 from a season-worst 10.50 in mid-April.
The starting pitching for the Athletics is the main reason the team has been nearly unbeatable at home in the past month.
In the 15th inning, the A’s nearly ended the day-long drama.
Moss hit a one-out single to right before Josh Reddick worked a walk. Coco Crisp, nursing a sore right heel, pinch hit and delivered a single to left.
But a perfect relay throw from Vernon Wells arrived at catcher Chris Stewart just as he absorbed the steamrolling Moss. Stewart was sent tumbling backward, but held onto the ball long enough for Moss to be called out. Adam Rosales then struck out looking and it was on to the 16th.
Oakland’s offense was stagnant for most of the game. The A’s scored twice in the second to tie the game on a run-scoring single by Smith and a Derek Norris RBI ground out.
Every team has honored the all-time saves leader during his farewell tour. The A’s had a nice pregame ceremony for Rivera.
Rivera showed his appreciation and made his final Coliseum appearance to a standing ovation in the decisive 18th inning.
The Yankees got off to a good start when Brett Gardner doubled down the right field line on the first pitch of the game. Robinson Cano launched a two-run homer to center field to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Hard to believe those runs would be the only ones scored by New York despite numerous opportunities in the extra frames.
The A’s got a run back in the third. After a walk to Chris Young and a single to right by Eric Sogard, a double steal advanced both runners to second and third base.
A groundout to short scored Young, then Jaso walked and scored on a double to right by Smith. The relay throw by Ichiro to the cutoff man to the plate was on time but Jaso was able to evade the catcher. Jaso’s left hand touched home plate first as Stewart had the ball in his right hand, not in the glove and never tagged Jaso.
But Hiroki Kuroda was on top of his game, retiring the next 16 batters in a row from the third through the eighth inning.
In the ninth, the A’s had a golden opportunity to end it when the A’s had runners at the corners with one out after singles by Jaso and Lowrie. But both Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss struck out swinging against David Robertson and the game went to extra innings.
In the top of the 11th, Gardner reached on a bunt single and a throwing error by reliever Jerry Blevins advanced him to second.
Following a sacrifice and an intentional walk to Cano, Blevins was in big trouble when he hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases with only one out.
But just as the A’s had done in the bottom of the 10th, the next two Yankees struck out and it remained a 2-2 tie.
Yankee threats in the 12th, 13th and 14th innings all fizzled as New York left an astounding 11 men on base in extra innings.
Girardi noted it was frustrating to have so many chances and not score any runs:
Yankees manager Joe Girardi
Video: YES Network
“You can look it that you had an opportunity here and an opportunity there. There’s going to be a lot of guys that probably look at that but it doesn’t change the result. The bottom line is we didn’t get it done.”
This ended up being the longest day game in Oakland Coliseum history and the first time since 1971 that a team played two games of at least 18 innings in the same season. The A’s were one of two 1971 teams with games of 18 or more innings; 21 innings at the Washington Senators and 20 innings at home vs. the California Angels.
The A’s recorded their fifth “walk-off” win of the season. … They have also swept the last five home series and haven’t lost a home game since May 15. … Donaldson left in the top of the 16th with a sore right hamstring. … The middle of the Yankees order was 0-for-28.