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A’s claim ‘The Bridge’ with second-straight walkoff

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Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman (26) gets a Gatorade bath, after hitting a walk-off single, following the game against the San Francisco Giants at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on July 22, 2018.

“The Bridge” trophy will spend its first year of existence in Oakland after the Athletics overcame a late Giants comeback to earn their second walk-off win in as many days.

After losing a 4-1 advantage in the seventh and eventually falling behind, the A’s (57-43) repeated their performance of Saturday, walking off the Giants (51-50) in extra innings, this time in the 10th, to claim a 4-2 season series victory with a 2-1 weekend win at the Oakland Coliseum.

Oakland lost the first of three, but then won the next two, including a 6-5 triumph in Sunday’s finale, scoring a total of 10 runs despite getting just two hits in 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position. On Saturday, it was the gift of two bases-loaded walks, and on Sunday it was four home runs.  But both hits the A’s got in those run-scoring at-bats were walk-off winners.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Matt Chapman, Sunday’s walk-off hero, was surprised by that number, telling SFBay that, while it feels like every time any of his teammates are in that position they come through, the fact that the little clutch hitting the A’s did do came in the clutchest of moments shows the resilience of his club. He said, laughing:

“I guess we got the big hit when we needed it.”

Manager Bob Melvin, a Bay Area native, was a bit stunned as well, saying it added to the mystique of what was a scintillating six-game series:

“We were saving them for the right time. … We got big hits when we needed to — it was really a great series, I think, for the Bay Area overall. It was really fun to watch. Then with the trophy … it was an exciting series.”

Adding to the excitement, the A’s second hit with runners in scoring position almost wasn’t.

San Francisco’s Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had made countless plays to rob the A’s of run-scoring chances over the weekend, had a play on Chapman’s chopper up the middle. Marcus Semien, who had walked and stolen second, was breaking from second to third as Crawford came tearing in from his position near the outfield grass.

With Chapman’s speed, the only way to record an out, what would have been the third of the inning, required Crawford to charge all the way in and get to the ball before it hit the ground for a second time. In his haste, the three-time Gold Glover whiffed on the play, allowing the ball to bound into shallow center and Semien to scamper home.

Melvin, who had been in awe of Crawford’s usually sterling defensive play, said it was a very tough play. Chapman didn’t see that it hadn’t been made until he arrived at first — he was too busy using every bit of his speed trying to beat out what he was hoping would be the A’s third infield hit of the afternoon.

While two of Oakland’s eight hits Sunday didn’t leave the dirt, the power duo of Khris Davis and Matt Olson made sure four wouldn’t be held in by the outfield walls.

Davis, who has remained productive through a recent power lapse by batting .319 since over his past 19 games, entered Sunday’s game having homered just once since June 14. The first Oakland Athletic to homer 40 times in back-to-back seasons hit a pair of bombs (22,23) while Olson, who had hit just one in July, added two more of his own (20,21) with a combined exit velocity of 223 miles per hour.

Davis’ second of the afternoon, a solo shot in the eighth, was an absolute necessity for the A’s, though, because a normally stingy bullpen had failed starter Sean Manaea (ND, 9-6, 3.38 ERA), who was perfect though four and allowed just four hits and two runs in his 6-2/3.

Said Melvin:

“Unfortunately, he wasn’t involved in the decision today but we needed him to be out there in the seventh inning. … He pitched great; he’s on a nice little run; I can’t say enough about the way he pitched again today.”

While Johnny Cueto‘s day didn’t start in quite the same fashion as Manaea’s he battled through seven innings, holding Oakland to four runs on six hits and two walks. After overcoming his early longball issues, the Giants starter was bailed out by a late uprising from the Giants, led by a three-hit performed authored by rookie Austin Slater and a game-tying two-run pinch-hit double from Pablo Sandoval.

Cueto (ND, 3-1, 2.76 ERA) finally did depart, after a run apiece surrendered by Emilio PagánLou Trivino (BS, 2) and Yusmeiro Petit, with a chance to win. But Mark Melancon failed him, serving up Davis’ second dinger.

In the end, it was Ty Blach (L, 6-6, 4.55 ERA), San Francisco’s struggling starter turned reliever, who suffered defeat at the hands of the Chapman chop, and Jeurys Familia (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA), the A’s trade acquisition who arrived in Oakland from New York minutes before first pitch, who claimed the victory.

For Familia, it was a pair of scoreless innings that was a marvel for the Oakland skipper. And while it was a victory that, on most days would have belonged to him, Manaea was happy to end the series with another exciting win, saying that it just goes to show the real strength of his A’s:

“This team, we just find ways to win. Everybody does their part, you can sense that feeling that everybody has got each other’s back.”

On Deck

The A’s, who tied Houston at an MLB-leading 10 games above .500 on the road in the first half, head to Texas for their first road trip of the second half. Brett Anderson (1-2, 6.08 ERA) will take the ball for Oakland having gone 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA (three earned runs, 8-1/3 innings) in two starts since spending just less than two months on the disabled list. The Rangers (41-58) will counter with Cole Hamels (5-8, 4.36 ERA).

Notes

Jed Lowrie was given a day off Sunday after fouling a ball off his right leg Saturday in the same spot where he had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game. Manager Bob Melvin said that his All-Star second baseman was due for an off-day after not getting the same amount of time off during the All-Star break as all other position players on the A’s roster. … Chad Pinder was left off the starting lineup after a collision with Giants second baseman Alen Hanson at first base Saturday night, tending to tenderness in his wrist, thumb and side. Melvin said that while Pinder was arguing to play Sunday, but the decision was made to give him rest with three straight left-handed starters coming up. … Mark Canha suffered leg cramps Saturday. Canha finished the game but was held out of the starting lineup, like Pinder, with a trio of southpaws on the immediate horizon. … Jeurys Familia, who was acquired via trade with the Mets Saturday, was place on the active roster Sunday. Making room for the right-handed reliever, the A’s optioned Jeremy Bleich to Triple-A Nashville. Bleich appeared in two games with the A’s, allowing two hits and two runs in 1/3 inning of work.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.

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