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Canha walkoff double seals series, sets tone for stretch run

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Wednesday afternoon’s giveaway were Mark Canha shirts. Fans waved his shirt around throughout the Coliseum — and he ended up being the hero.

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Fans patiently waited all afternoon for a run. After eleven innings, thanks to Mark Canha’s walk-off double, the A’s (92-61) clinched the series by beating the Royals 1-0.

Jesse Hahn (L, 0-1, 8.10 ERA) came for Kansas City in to close the eleventh, only to give up the first and only run of the game. Jurickson Profar was unintentionally walked, then Matt Olson was intentionally walked. With two outs, Canha put an end to the game.

Canha was waiting for a sinker. He knew it was coming after Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien‘s at-bats. He struggled the first nine innings at the plate but kept telling himself his time would come. And it did.

Canha said:

“I was waiting for that pitch that whole at-bat. I was expecting it early and he mixed in a couple sliders, and finally got the pitch I was looking for and I just told myself to stay in there and stay with it, you will get it eventually.”

Canha delivered two of the A’s five hits — both in extra innings. Ramon Laureano followed Canha’s single in the tenth. Semien had the only two hits in the first nine, and both teams stood tied 0-0 with a total of four hits.

The fifth hit was the winning — and final — hit of the day.

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Canha described his mindset when he approached the plate in the eleventh:

“I kept telling myself: ‘Just stick with it, keep grinding away and find a way to win that game. I had that feel where it was going to be tough today and I just kept telling myself, ‘be patient, be patient. Don’t get frustrated, just hang in there, you will get an opportunity, grind one away.'”

When Canha landed on second, his team bolted out from the dugout and celebrated at second base. Canha and Olson hugged, and Olson swept him up in the air. Canha talked about the celebration:

“It was just emotional and tiring. It was awesome. I think it was just relief that it was a high-pressure situation and we needed a win, so I was just relieved that we won the game and we didn’t drop one right there right before an off day. We were all clinging to that game with everything we had.”

The A’s bats didn’t start flowing until the tenth inning. Kevin McCarthy got credit for the Royals win on Monday, but on Wednesday, it was a different story. He was the only reliever to give up hits prior to the winning run.

Canha lead off the tenth with a base hit up the middle and Laureano singled to shallow left. Sean Murphy hit into a fielder’s choice and Laureano was out at second.

The Royals pulled McCarthy after Murphy’s at-bat. With two outs and runners on the corners, Randy Rosario took the mound. Robbie Grossman pinch hit for Chad Pinder in the eighth inning, grounding out to shortstop.

Adalberto Mondesi made it interesting after a bad throw to first, but Ryan O’Hearn was able to put his foot back on first before Grossman got to the bag. O’Hearn already had an error prior to the play, for dropping a routine grounder in the first, and made up for it when it mattered. His save ended the inning, rather than loaded the bases.

McCarthy lasted 2/3 of an inning, giving up 2 of the 5 total hits for the A’s in the tenth inning: back-to-back singles from Laureano and Canha. J.B. Wendelken gave up the Royals forth hit in the eleventh. A sacrifice bunt from Bubba Starling advanced O’Hearn to second.

The A’s intentionally walked Whit Merrifield, then Wendelken unintentionally walked Mondesi on a full count. He was able to strike out the home run hitter and probably toughest match-up, Jorge Soler, to end the inning.

Wendelken struggled in the inning, but with no one warming up in the bullpen, the A’s were confident, Melvin said:

“It was a tough walk, to face a lefty too. But Merrifield is a pretty tough customer and a really good player. You try to get your best potential match up. He walks him and now he has Soler which might be the toughest match up but he executes some really good pitches.”

Dull is an understatement when it comes to describing Wednesday’s game. It came down to pitching. After nine scoreless innings and a total of five hits, the game went into extra innings. The strikeouts were more impressive than the hits.

Both starting pitchers pitched seven scoreless innings. Two singles from Royals Alex Gordon and a double from Soler. Danny Duffy only gave up two hits in seven both to Semien, who was the starting pitcher’s only threat.

Homer Bailey (ND, 7 IP, 1 R, 4.55 ERA) proved he is postseason ready Wednesday against his former team. He set a season high with 11 strikeouts and only gave up three hits. Duffy struck out six and walked one in his 103 pitches.

In the seventh inning with two men on Soler hit a double and the A’s intentionally walked Gordon, who had been Bailey’s toughest batter. O’Hearn his a line drive to left and Pinder made an incredible diving play to end the inning and prevent a run from scoring. It was a huge save for the A’s and a very important play.

Bailey talked about how he and his former teammate were battling the whole game:

“I thought it was a great play. It didn’t hang up in the air as much as I thought it would. I knew he didn’t hit it very very well plus obviously the field conditions today were a little rough. As soon as he laid out and I saw him catch it I was like ‘oof’ very big sigh of relief.”

Bailey felt good and said he could have lasted longer in the game:

“I thought I definitely had enough energy to. I thought the ball was still coming out really well even in the seventh. I kinda left a curve ball a little up to Soler but Chi [Pinder] makes a great play there in left field but I didn’t think I was struggling at all. I still had command I felt I still had plenty behind the ball so I would have liked to theres no doubt but thats just any starting pitcher, wants to keep going.”

Melvin said the team was down guys had to rely on Bailey to go far into the game. He said he pitched well and deserved to go out in the seventh:

“Gordon looked like he was the only good guy getting swings off him so we moved on from him and [Chad] Pinder makes an unbelievable play, it is a game-saver at that point and those things kinda get lost in the shuffle when the game goes extra innings but that was a big play as well. He was really good, Bailey was great.”

Bailey pitched a perfect fourth inning with three strikeouts all swinging. Yusmeiro Petit pitched the eight and ninth, both perfect innings. Petit’s ninth was all strikeouts, one looking. He now has the most games pitched in the American League as a reliever with 76.

Bailey was super proud of his defense and bullpen:

“The pitching side today was just great, the defensive as well. Those guys just went out there and kept following what I did and we were able to squeeze that one out and sometimes that is all you need.”

He explained the Royals record doesn’t explain the team. They have a strong top of the order and they should not be taken lightly.

This series was a lot more challenging that many would assume. All three games in the series were within a one run different but the A’s were able to win the series after a walk-off extra innings game. The A’s have the day off tomorrow before they play the Texas Rangers for the final time this year.

Bob Melvin on the series:

“At the very least, we need to try to win the series there. They played us very tough. … It is not like we are immune to having some offensive lows at times. That is just when you need to stay with it … we ended up getting a couple big hits and winning a couple big games.”

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