© D. Ross Cameron | USA Today
OAKLAND – On a historic night for the A’s, everything seemed to be in line for a home win. Oakland opened the game by honoring players and front office management from its 1989 World Series-winning team. Welcoming them was the largest-ever baseball crowd at the Oakland Coliseum – and largest of the 2018 MLB season – of 56,310 people.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, with runners on first and second base, A’s catcher Jonathon Lucroy sent the packed crowd home with a long single to right-center field, securing a 4-3 win. Lucroy started the game on the bench, driving in the winning run with his only at-bat.
The A’s likely expected the game to be over long before Lucroy’s walk-off.
In the top of the ninth inning, the A’s led 3-2 and were poised to close out the game, until Giants second baseman Alen Hanson came up to bat with two outs. Hanson reached first base on a wild-pitch strikeout to give the Giants life again.
The next batter was a red-hot Hunter Pence, who’d already recorded a pair of singles in the game. On a first-pitch sinker, Pence ripped a ball down the first-base line and into the open Giants bullpen against the right-field wall. A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty sprinted to recover the ball after it ricocheted off a wood barrier in the bullpen.
On his way there, Piscotty ran into a chair held by Giants’ reliever Mark Melancon, who appeared to be trying to move out of Piscotty’s way. Piscotty recovered the ball but had no chance of catching Hanson from first after a poor throw to the plate.
A’s manager Bob Melvin challenged the call on the field, arguing that Piscotty was impeded by Melancon and that Hanson’s run should not have counted. After reviewing the play, the umpires upheld the original call, tying the game at three runs apiece.
In the bottom half of the ninth inning, the Giants were on the verge of wasting the opportunity created by Pence. Giants reliever Tony Watson allowed a leadoff single to A’s first baseman Matt Olson, then a fly ball from third baseman Matt Chapman dropped into right field between Hansen and right fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy walked out to the mound, bringing in reliever Reyes Moronta.
After a sacrifice bunt from left fielder Chad Pinder moved runners to second and third, Moronta intentionally walked pinch-hitter Nick Martini to load the bases. With a chance to win the game, A’s shortstop Marcus Semien grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and a fired-up Moronta entered the dugout yelling into his glove.
All of this took place after a nightmare outing for Madison Bumgarner.
The Giants’ ace unraveled and was pulled after just four innings of work. While he finished the fourth inning with five strikeouts and one hit, Bumgarner lost his feel in the fifth inning.
For 89 straight games, Bumgarner had pitched at least five innings, breaking Juan Marichal’s Giants’ record by 17 games.
With a four-walk fifth inning, that record came to a halt, as Bochy relieved Bumgarner of his duty after walking in two consecutive runs for the first time in his career. Bumgarner had experienced four five-walk games in his career, but set a career-high against the A’s with six walks. In total, the Giants walked nine batters and hit one.
Despite Bumgarner’s nightmare fifth inning, the Giants’ pitching staff limited the damage to keep the Giants in the game. Reliever Sam Dyson came in after Bumgarner to force a double play and another ground out, limiting the deficit to 3-1.
The Giants’ first run came from the bat of first baseman Brandon Belt, who was on paternity leave yesterday as he welcomed his second child, August “Augie” Kyle Belt into the world. In his second at-bat, Belt hit a solo home run over the right-field fence to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
The win gives Oakland a 3-2 lead in the Bay Bridge Series. The winner of the Sunday’s game will receive the first-ever commemorative “The Bridge” trophy. In the case of a tie, the trophy goes to the winner of the final game of the series.