A’s force Wild Card Game 3 after bats come alive early

Oakland – A different game, and a different mentality.  The A’s knew they had one option after yesterday’s loss.  In a must-win game, they got off to a great start by scoring five runs early off Dallas Keuchel.  Oakland tied the AL Wild Card series by beating the Chicago White Sox 5-3 forcing a deciding Game 3 tomorrow. 

The A’s win didn’t come easy, top of the ninth Liam Hendriks got himself in a jam when he loaded bases.  After striking out the first two batters, Hendrik’s gave up two hits and a free pass.  A’s manager Bob Melvin quickly replaced him with Jake Diekman.

Diekman walked home a run and the bases were still loaded.  After settling down, he forced Jose Abreu to ground out to end the game while leaving three stranded.  He also recorded the final out for the save.  Diekman has seven career saves during the regular season.

“We won.  That’s all that matters,” said Melvin.  “It wasn’t comfortable.  But we did just enough offensively to win and [Chris] Bassitt was terrific.”

Bassitt was the gem everyone knew he would be.  The Ace allowed one run in 7.0 innings for the win in his postseason debut.  Bassitt is 4-0 with an ERA 0.53 in five starts in September and has allowed just two runs in 33.2 frames.  Oakland snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating back to 2013.

“I think there’s relief,” Bassitt said.  “We knew the numbers.  I feel like the monkeys off our back a little bit and now we can just play baseball from here on out.  We were excited, but relieved more than anything.”

The A’s first hit is always important and that came in the first inning.  Tommy La Stella and Ramon Laureano hit back-to-back singles before Chad Pinder singled to load the bases.  Matt Olson reached first on a fielding error by second baseman Nick Madrigal, and both La Stella and Laureano scored making it a 2-0 game.  

By the second, Murphy singled to center field and Marcus Semien followed with a two-run homer to extend their lead 4-0.  Oakland scored five runs on seven hits after tallying four runs on 16 hits over their previous three postseason games.  Khris Davis added a solo shot of his own in the fourth to extend their lead 5-0.  

Photo by MLB/Michelle Minahen

“It seems like we’ve had a lot of games where it’s just zeros first time through the lineup,” said Semien.  “And we get a hit that wakes us up.  A lot of times, it’s a home run.  It seemed like guys were all over Keuchel in the first inning.  I thought that was the right approach, and that’s what I took into that at-bat.”

The White Sox had a few missed opportunities.  Bassitt gave up back-to-back singles to both Madrigal and Tim Anderson.  Yoan Moncada flew out to left field in what could’ve been trouble, but Mark Canha made a phenomenal leaping catch to kill that play.  Bassitt retired the next two batters to end the inning, leaving two stranded. 

“I was kinda of measuring it up as I was running toward it,” Canha said.  “About three-quarters of the way there, I decided to go for it.  And I decided I had a chance.  It was just kind of instinctual.  I timed it well.  It was a tough play.  Thank God I got it done.”

“A game changer.  A game saver,” Bassitt said.  “That’s an automatic two runs if he doesn’t catch it.  I saw TA [Tim Anderson] basically half way to third base, and I said, ‘That ain’t good.’ He came up with this ridiculous friggin catch and truly saved my hide.”

Malaika Bobino

Malaika Bobino, an Oakland, California native, is a Bay Area sports journalism powerhouse and influencer. With nearly two decades of experience at both the Oakland Post and the Huffington Post, she is always on the front lines of the iconic Bay Area sports scene. Bobino covered the Oakland A’s postseason trips, all three of the San Francisco Giants World Series, was present for all three Golden State Warriors three NBA Championships and covered the 49ers last two Super Bowl appearances

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