The Oakland A’s secured their third straight series victory with a 2-1 extra inning win over the Boston Red Sox Saturday afternoon to improve to 47-28 and maintain their status as the best team in Major League Baseball.
Coming off their 4-3 victory Friday evening in Brad Mills Oakland debut, the A’s had won four straight games, six of their last seven and were 12-6 in the month of June. With their victory Saturday, they improved all those numbers and moved to a season-high 19 games over .500.
Jesse Chavez pitched well despite not having his best control all game and deserved a win, although he wound up being saddled with a no-decision due to a blown call on a third strike by the home plate umpire.
Through the first two innings, the game appeared to be an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Chavez, despite allowing three walks, was matching zeroes on the board in the score and hit column with Boston starter Ruby De La Rosa.
Stephen Vogt led off the bottom of the third inning with a stand-up triple and came around to score on a line drive sacrifice fly by Alberto Callaspo. Boston right fielder Brock Holt made a very impressive diving catch to rob Callaspo of a hit, but couldn’t throw out Vogt at the plate and the A’s had the early lead, 1-0.
Chavez meanwhile, allowed another walk to push his total to four through five innings, but continued to keep the Red Sox out of the run and hit columns.
Brock Holt finally ended Chavez’s bid for a no-hitter with a soft single to left field to lead off the top of the sixth inning. Dustin Pedroia followed up with the Red Sox’s second hit of the day, leading to Boston’s first threat of the day with two on and no out.
David Ortiz grounded into a double play though, and Chavez followed by striking out Mike Napoli to end the sixth and the Boston threat of scoring, keeping the score at 1-0 Oakland.
Daniel Nava lead off the top of the seventh inning with a single for the third hit allowed by Chavez, but A.J. Pierzynski flew out to deep center field, Stephen Drew lined out to left field, and Jonathan Herrera grounded out to second base to end the inning and conclude Chavez’s night.
The A’s starter left with a final pitching line of no runs allowed on three hits and four walks. Chavez struck out four Boston batters and left in-line for his seventh win of the season.
Luke Gregerson was unable to hold the lead in relief of Chavez though. Following a controversial call on what looked like a strikeout of Mike Napoli to end the inning, instead the at bat continued and Gregerson tossed a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to cross the plate. The next pitch resulted in a flyout to finally end the inning.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected following the inning as he chose to vent his frustrations to the home plate umpire. The replays clearly show that Napoli had swung and missed at the pitch and the inning should have been over.
Sean Doolittle came in to pitch the ninth inning for the A’s following Gregerson’s undeserved results an inning earlier. The A’s closer, pitching in a non-save situation today, fared much better, setting the Red Sox down in order 1-2-3 and extending his scoreless innings streak to 24.1 consecutive innings without a run allowed.
Dan Otero worked a scoreless 10th inning for the A’s in extra innings.
In the bottom half of the 10th inning, Callaspo walked to lead things off and moved up to second base on Nick Punto’s sacrifice bunt down the first base line. Coco Crisp gave the A’s the walk-off win with a line drive single to right field that scored Callaspo from second base to give the A’s the 2-1 win.
Cespedes took over Josh Reddick’s unofficial duty of delivering the post-walk-off celebratory pie, smashing two into Crisp’s face as has become an Oakland custom since 2012.
With his shut-out performance through seven innings, Chavez boosted his All-Star chances by dropping his ERA to 2.71, currently good for the seventh best in the league.
Headed into the game, the A’s run differential on the season was at +135, more than triple that of the next closest team, the San Francisco Giants with 44. No team since the 2001 Seattle Mariners had a higher run differential than 127 prior to the All-Star break.
The A’s have now had sole possession of first place since April 28, and have held the best record in the American League since May 31.