The Oakland Athletics’ Josh Donaldson’s first half of the season came to an inauspicious end as he hit a mere .158/.210/.271 over his final 143 plate appearances dating back to June 5. Over the All-Star break, he lost a first-round swing-off to teammate and eventual repeat champion Yoenis Cespedes in the Home Run Derby, then went 0-for-2 in the All-Star Game. In his first three at-bats Friday night, Donaldson grounded out, struck out and fouled out, but he couldn’t have asked for a much more rousing change in fortunes than what happened in his final at-bat of the A’s series opener in Oakland against the Orioles, a team with whom the A’s had a couple of dustups in early June.
With the A’s trailing 4-2 and Baltimore closer Zach Britton on the mound, Cespedes reached on an infield single down the third base line, and Brandon Moss followed with a broken bat single into shallow right, bringing up Donaldson as the potential winning run. Britton’s first pitch to Donaldson was a thigh-high fastball on the inside half of the plate and Donaldson hit it out past the 388 mark in left-center for a three-run walk-off home run.
After hitting just the third home run allowed by Britton all year, Donaldson became the third player this season to deliver a walk-off hit with his team trailing by multiple runs. Here are the other three.
May 15: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
With runners on the corners and the Angels trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Trout hit the first walk-off home run of his career off the Rays’ Brad Boxberger (he has since hit another).
June 19: Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians
With the Indians trailing Trout’s Angels 3-1 in the bottom of the 10th, Swisher hit a two-out grand slam off Ernesto Frieri to deliver a 5-3 win. Frieri lost his job as the Angels closer after that hit.
June 30: Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers loaded the bases against A’s closer Sean Doolittle, the last man reaching on one of the just two walks Doolittle has allowed all season. Davis then delivered the most unlikely walk-off hit of the season, a grand slam that gave the Tigers a 5-4 win.