Early in the game the A’s were up with a 3-0 lead, and just stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Shane McClanahan was the night’s starter, and had a solid first inning, going 1-2-3 through the A’s lineup, which is already a major improvement over some other games in this series. In the bottom of the first Brandon Lowe got a leadoff single, but the Rays were unable to bring him home.
McClanahan started to struggle a bit in the second, giving a leadoff walk to Murphy. While he struck out the next two batters and seemed to be finding his footing, he did give up a single to Neuse. And while no A’s runners scored, it was an early sign of things to come. The bottom of the second started with a leadoff single from Diaz, followed by a Josh Lowe single. On a Kiermaier flyout, Diaz made a run for third and a slightly delayed Lowe headed for second. Lowe barely made it in, and only managed it by some tricky use of his limbs and getting slapped in the face with a glove. Unfortunately, the nice baserunning yielded no runs.
After two outs to start the third, things went off the rails a little for McClanahan. Lowrie and Piscotty walked back-to-back, and then a Murphy home run brought all three home and put the score up 3-0. Walks have really been deadly for the Rays this series. The bottom of the inning saw three Rays head to the batter’s box, and not a single one of them got any further than that.
The fourth went a little more smoothly for Shane with another 1-2-3 outing which had to feel good. In the bottom of the fourth Ji-Man Choi got things going with a solo home run, but the next three batters couldn’t follow his good example.
McClanahan was back for the fifth and collected two strikeouts, but it would ultimately be the end of his day, and he left with 4.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR on 85 pitches. Really it’s not a bad line by any means, but those walks really hurt. Wisler was next up for the Rays to face Lowrie and a flyout sent Lowrie to the dugout. The Rays went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Kittredge was the pitcher for the sixth inning but you could have blinked and missed it, because as quickly as batters could get to the plate they were sent back down to the dugout. In the bottom of the inning with two outs, Choi was showing signs of a sore wrist, but it wasn’t enough to pull him from the game. Still, no Rays reached base.
Dusten Knight, the newest Durham shuttle-reliever, was on for the Rays in the seventh. He started off by giving up a double to Andrus. Then with two outs to follow, Pache singled to score Andrus, putting the score up 4-1. Knight got out of the inning with another out, limiting the damage to the one run.
Diaz singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh, then Josh Lowe grounded into what should have been a fielder’s choice but ended as an error to Neuse with no outs and everyone safely aboard. Two strikeouts followed. but then things got interesting as a little Mejia bloop fell perfectly between the outfielders, and brought Diaz home. The Rays would have to settle for the one extra run, but it cut the A’s lead down to 4-2.
Knight was back out for the eighth, and with the exception of a single to Murphy, it was a nice, clean inning and no runs scored. Sweet. With two out in the bottom of the inning, Choi walked, and then Diaz singled. Diaz was replaced by baserunner Taylor Walls. Too bad the runners would stay stranded headed into the ninth.
Knight returned once more, and gave up a leadoff walk to Andrus. Then Neuse grounded out to the pitcher, and Andrus was able to safely make it to second. That was the end for Knight, who gave way to Feyereisen. JP was able to cleanly end the inning with no A’s runs, so yay, tremendous work.
And then it was the bottom of the ninth. With two outs Mejia managed to keep things going with a single to right. Then B. Lowe was walked to put two men aboard. Sadly Franco flied out to foul territory. There would be no exciting comeback tonight.
Final: A’s 4, Rays 2