Following back-to-back extra inning losses in the Bronx, including a heartbreaking 14-inning loss Saturday night after Oakland had taken a four run lead in the top of the 13th inning, the A’s managed to salvage the final game Sunday with a 5-4 victory.
Cliff Pennington was the unlikely hero, homering in the second inning to drive in two runs. He then scored the tying run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Yoenis Cespedes and drove in Josh Donaldson for the game-winning run on an RBI single an inning later in the sixth.
Friday night the A’s wasted a solid pitching effort by Jarrod Parker, who went eight innings, striking out seven and allowing just one run.
Oakland was shutout by CC Sabathia through the first eight inning before Brandon Moss got the A’s on the board with a long home run in the top of the ninth to tie the game and get Parker off the hook for the loss. Russell Martin homered in the bottom of the tenth inning though to straddle Sean Doolittle with the loss.
Saturday the A’s used a combined nine pitchers to work through the 14-inning affair before ultimately losing 10-9. The A’s overcame three errors and a poor starting performance from Travis Blackley to fight their way back to a 5-5 tie entering extra frames. They then took a 9-5 lead in the 13th inning on homers from Johnny Gomes (two-run shot scoring Stephen Drew), Cespedes and Chris Carter.
Pedro Figuero and Pat Neshek could not hold the lead though and allowed the Yankees to score four runs in the bottom half of the inning before finally winning it an inning later.
Despite losing their second series this road trip, they also lost two of three to Detroit, the A’s still find themselves in control of the second Wild Card spot and in a prime position to make up some ground against the division leading Texas Rangers.
With the Rangers currently four games ahead of the A’s in the division standings, the A’s could make up ground by winning their four-game series against Texas which begins Monday. Oakland will then have one more opportunity with a three game series at home to conclude the regular season against the Rangers. (They also play a three-game home series against the Seattle Mariners).
Oakland currently has a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card position, however defeating the Rangers and taking over the division lead would guarantee them at least a five-game series in the postseason compared to a one-game Wild Card playoff to fight their way into the Division Series.
With ten games remaining, seven of which are against the Rangers, and Oakland back just four in the standings, it should be a fun final week and a half of regular season baseball.