In a word, wow. With runners on the corners and no outs, Jerry Blevins replaced an ineffective and irate Grant Balfour in the bottom of the ninth in Anaheim. At the very least, the Los Angeles Angels seemed sure to tie what was a 6-5 game. Instead, Blevins struck out Kendrys Morales and induced a 5-4-3 double play from Howie Kendrick and the A’s won their 11th straight road game, the most in 31 years.
Dan Straily got his second Major League win, striking out eight while allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Yoenis Cespedes snapped a long drought with his 17th home run and Brandon Moss gave the A’s the lead for good with a two run smash, his 18th of the year. Coco Crisp provided what would be insurance on the night with an RBI triple in the ninth that turned in to two runs after Torii Hunter bobbled the ball in right field, making it 6-3.
But, the story of this game will be the ninth inning. Balfour entered and immediately ran into trouble, walking Chris Iannetta and Mike Trout. Then, after a couple of close pitches that Balfour would snap at home plate umpire Paul Schrieber about, Balfour surrendered RBI singles to Hunter and Albert Pujols to make a 6-3 game 6-5. Enter Blevins.
Facing Morales, Blevins very nearly threw away the lead on a pickoff attempt to first base. But on a 1-2 pitch, he struck Morales out on a nasty darting change-up. Then he induced the game ending double play off of Kendrick’s bat on a 1-2 fastball putting the A’s at 81 wins for just the second time since 2006. More importantly, the A’s kept pace with first place Texas, three games off the AL West lead.
The A’s look to continue their road mastery Wednesday night as A.J. Griffin faces Ervin Santana at 7:05 p.m.