After eight innings and about three hours of baseball, what was left of the 56,310 in attendance at the Oakland Coliseum Saturday night — an Oakland baseball record — got their first real bit of excitement in the top of the ninth.
With the speedy Alen Hanson on first, two outs and All-Star closer Blake Treinen on the mound, Hunter Pence poked his third hit of the game just over the glove of Matt Olson at first and into the right field bullpen. In his pursuit of the sure-thing double, hoping to keep Hanson at third, Athletics right fielder Stephen Piscotty was struck with a chair by Giants relief pitcher Mark Melancon.
Both Piscotty and Oakland manager Bob Melvin argued obstruction to no avail, settling on a challenge of whether or not the ball, which had caromed off the guard below the bullpen bench, stayed in play. In the end, their argument fell on deaf ears.
But the A’s (56-43) didn’t let their misfortune steal the night, instead beating the Giants (51-49) 4-3 on a Jonathan Lucroy walk-off single in the 11th.
Melvin said he was unable to challenge for possible interference, with that being a judgement call. The rule, he said, is based on intention, and the umpires decided in live time that there was no intent:
“I was looking for some sort of interference. … That’s one of the problems with having the bullpens on the field.”
Piscotty told SFBay he thought the A’s were “short-changed,” though he doesn’t feel there was intention, adding that it’s a play he has never been witness to:
“Accidental or not, it obstructed my play. That shouldn’t be my fault, we shouldn’t be penalized for that. … It looked like he was trying, kinda, to get out of the way, or kinda dangling there. It’s chaos down there.”
Giants tie it up 3-3 in the 9th with some shady business ???? pic.twitter.com/i4BNUPMEgb
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 22, 2018
A’s starter Trevor Cahill, who spent two seasons as a reliever with the Cubs where the bullpens are also on the field, told SFBay that when balls find their way into the bullpen, things get chaotic:
“You just try to get out of the way. It was tough but — I don’t know the ruling. You look at the replay and you think there should be some kind of call.”
Cahill (ND, 1-2, 2.95 ERA) kept things from getting weird while he was on the bump with more of his home dominance.
Making his fifth start in Oakland this season, the veteran hurler allowed one run in his 5-2/3 frames and has now surrendered just three runs in 33-1/3 innings of work (0.81 ERA). The lone red flag raised above Cahill’s latest stellar effort was the three walks, matching the season high he set in the last outing before the All-Star break. He did, however, strikeout five and limit the Giants to two hits.
Melvin said that, despite the walks, Cahill looked better than he did nine days ago, when he was knocked out after just 3-2/3 innings:
“Last time, it was just coming off the DL and not being able to throw a ton of pitches. Usually, the second time out after you’ve been on the DL for a little bit, you’re a little crisper. I think that was the case today.”
The lone pain he did sustain came in the form of a fourth-inning solo home run (14) off the bat of Brandon Belt, which by the end of the night felt like it had happened a week prior. Madison Bumgarner didn’t help keep the memory of Belt’s blast stay fresh when, in the fifth, he suffered one of the worst single innings of his illustrious career.
In 242 previous starts, Bumgarner (ND, 3-3, 3.19 ERA) had never in his career walked more than five batters. He walked six Saturday, including four in Oakland’s three-run fifth.
The only hit contributed to Bumgarner’s meltdown came in the form of a lawn-dart single off the bat of Matt Chapman, the first of two identical bloop hits, that found a slim patch of grass between Hanson at second and Andrew McCutchen in right. The Giants ace walked one in front of the hit then the next three batters he faced after before departing leaving a mess similar to the one he left last Friday in San Francisco.
It was Reyes Moronta that bailed him out the first time — escaping a bases-loaded jam without surrendering a run — but it was Sam Dyson who did it this time, allowing on run to score before ending the threat. Bumgarner was credited with a minimal three runs allowed, despite allowing the only five batters he faced in the fifth to reach, on two hits while striking out five.
Pence, who came in batting .212 and looking for any type of momentum, found exactly that late, tallying two hits in two at-bats against the A’s dominant knockout duo of Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen. He was the only Giant with multiple hits, driving in a pair of runs.
Like San Francisco with Pence, Oakland had just one batter contribute multiple hits, and it was Chapman, who followed up a pair of bloop singles earlier in the game with single up the middle in the 11th. He would eventually score his second run of the game on a Lucroy line drive to right-center, bringing with him the winning run and handing Will Smith (L, 0-1, 1.50 ERA) his first loss of the season and Yusmeiro Petit (W, 5-2, 3.38 ERA) his third win since July 12.
“Good teams win any way they can. Good teams are going to win early, they’re going to win late. … The best teams win late, when everything is on the line.”
Though many had departed by the time Lucroy found the alley in his first at-bat of the night — what scheduled to be an off-night for the starting catcher — Saturday night’s crowd set a record for attendance at a baseball game in Oakland while also reaching an MLB-wide season high. Lucroy, who has played in postseason games and All-Star Games, said it created a fun environment:
“It’s pretty intense, it’s fun being on the field for that. Any time you get that energy from the crowd it really is a special time. I wish we could do that every night here because it really is a lot of fun.”
Sean Manaea and Johnny Cueto will lock horns in the finale of the Battle of the Bay Sunday, with the winner to claim the first possession of “The Bridge” trophy. Manaea (9-6, 3.42 ERA) is 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA over his last six starts, including a win for his six two-run innings against the Giants last Sunday. After a dominant start to the season, Cueto has struggled since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA (eight earned runs over 10 innings) in two starts.
The Athletics acquired reliever Jeurys Familia from the Mets, the club announced Saturday morning. Familia has been New York’s closer since 2015, leading the league in saves (51) when he was named to the National League All-Star team. At 28, the Dominican Republic native boasts a career 2.66 ERA (2.88 this season) and 123 saves (17). Hampered by injury and legal issues, Familia struggled in 2017 finishing the season with just six saves and a 4.38 ERA. It was the first time he’d had an ERA above 2.55 since his first full big league season, 2014. … In exchange for Familia, the A’s sent a pair of minor leaguers, reliever Bobby Wahl and infielder Will Toffey, along with $1 million international slot money to the Mets. … Prior to the game, the A’s honored their 1989 World Series Champion team, hosting 15 players and coaches from that season for an on-field ceremony before the game. Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley and Jose Canseco were among those in attendance for the “parade,” which the team never received after the Loma Prieta earthquake delayed the World Series and left the Bay Area reeling. … With the win, the A’s moved to a league-best 39-0 when leading after seven innings.