O.CO COLISEUM — It seemed as if the A’s were dominated Wednesday evening. Just two hits through eight innings. But then they did what they’ve become accustomed to doing.
With Coco Crisp at third and Craig Gentry at first, Josh Donaldson crushed a ball over the left-field wall, winning the game in walk-off fashion.
It was Donaldson’s 15th jack of the year, leading Oakland over Detroit by a score of 3-1.
Oakland’s fourth walk off win of the season came at the end of a pitcher’s duel, Anibal Sanchez allowing only three hits over eight and one-thirds innings, and southpaw Scott Kazmir striking out eight batters and lasting the entire game.
Kazmir offered simple words:
“A team win means more (that a complete game). You come out here and pitch a complete game loss, I don’t even know how I’d be able to feel about that. Us getting the win, battling back after the loss last night, that was awesome.”
Kazmir (W, 6-2, 2.36 ERA) tossed a complete game and allowed only six hits and no walks against one of the most potent offenses in the American League. He is on pace for 18 wins this season.
But Kazmir’s efforts were almost overshadowed by Detroit’s Sanchez, who was equally dominant.
Sanchez struck out nine batters before Crisp doubled on a grounder to the left-field corner. And, considering the way the A’s 2013 season ended, with the Tigers advancing in Game 5 of the ALDS, it could have been a huge blow to the team’s morale.
With a big grin on his face Donaldson said he wasn’t going to let his team go out like that:
“I was just sitting there, praying the ball stayed fair. I was just watching it, if it goes foul, I don’t want to waste my breath. I knew I’d hit it well enough.”
Donaldson also had a single in the fourth inning between first and second base, which, along with an Eric Sogard double in the sixth, were Oakland’s only two hits through the first eight innings.
Kazmir made only one real mistake, allowing Torii Hunter to go yard in the fourth for the Tigers’ lone run.
Manager Bob Melvin chimed in, saying while Sanchez was impressive, he never counts his team out:
“I don’t think anybody thought we were going to come up short. As soon as Coco got on, we had a really good feeling that we could win the game. And that’s what this team has been great about for years now, until that last out is recorded, we’re always optimistic that we can win.”
The A’s win guaranteed them another day with the best record in the American League, though it comes with some irony.
Hitting coach Chili Davis had posted a quote regarding home runs, to not to try and hit them. His message was the more you try and force them, the worse off the team is. If you just try and get a hit, the home runs will come along.
For Donaldson, the cliché couldn’t be more true. Not lacking for any bit of power, Donaldson remains in contention to be the starting third baseman for the American League at the all-star game. The A’s really have several others that could be there, and they probably will if they can keep pace.
For now, the A’s will have to finish their series with Detroit Thursday, and then host the division rival Angels starting Friday.