Punto Walk-Off Lifts A’s Over Jays

After Thursday night’s post-game patriotic themed pyrotechnic display, A’s fans had to wait until the twelfth inning for the lone firework of the day.

Nick Punto provided the pop with a walk-off double down the left field line, and celebrated with his signature “Shredding” of his own jersey before he was pied after the A’s 1-0 extra-inning victory on the Fourth of July.

   “It’s nice to be at home and draw extra energy from the crowd,” Punto said. “I’m sure they were ready to go home and get the barbecue started.”

Derek Norris led off the twelfth inning with a walk, and was able to score from first base with his above-average speed after the ball was kicked around in the corner by Melky Cabrera. It was an oddity as the game ended with zero RBI, as the error resulted in an unearned run.

That didn’t matter to the A’s as they escaped with the victory, improving to 20 games over .500 at 53-33 with their sixth walk-off victory of the 2014 campaign.

Not to be overlooked on the afternoon was the superb pitching effort by the Oakland staff. Tommy Milone improved his unbeaten streak to eleven consecutive starts, throwing six innings of shutout ball using pinpoint accuracy and timely strikeouts to silence one of the most electric offenses in the league.

The Oakland bullpen picked up where the southpaw left off, with six different relief pitchers tossing a scoreless inning each, highlighted by the season debut of lefty Eric O’Flaherety.

The low point of the game for Oakland was in the eighth inning, when slugger Brandon Moss twisted his ankle on a ground ball, and fell to the dirt in pain. The A’s announced that it was a left ankle sprain that took the lefty out of the game, and no time table was set for his return, though he is more than likely to be out at least the next few games.

The Athletics will look to win the series against the Blue Jays Saturday night, and make it three victories in a row. Scott Kazmir (9-3, 2.61) will take the hill against Mark Buehrle (10-5, 2.50) in a battle of lefty handers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PST.