Athletics Finally Find Their Comfort Zone; It's the 10th Inning

John Hickey

The A’s appear to have found their 2020 niche.

It’s extra innings. For the second time in eight games, the A’s played overtime baseball Saturday night in Seattle. For the second time they won, 3-2 on Robbie Grossman’s pinch-hit double to right-center.

The A’s are 4-4 and half of their wins have come in extra innings. Eight days ago, on opening night, Matt Olson hit a walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning for the A’s first extra-inning win.

For the first time in Grossman’s Major League career, he came to the plate with an automatic base runner on second. In this case, Tony Kemp pinch ran for Khris Davis, who'd made the final out of the ninth inning. There was no double, no single and steal of second to get the runner there, just a rule change that mandates all extra innings start with a runner at second base.

“It’s just an adjustment, and basically we’re going to adjust to all these changes,” Grossman said, saying he took the same basic approach he’d have taken in any other man-on-second situation.

Grossman actually had a chance to produce a second run. He’d made it all the way to third base with one out, but he was sent back to second by the umpires, who determined that the ball he hit had gotten wedged at the base of the wall in right-center. Had he been at third, he would have scored on a subsequent fly ball by Marcus Semien.

No matter. Liam Hendriks pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th to give the A’s their first road win of 2020.

Saturday’s win was significant for the A’s in that it broke a three-game losing streak, but also in that two of the club’s prime slumping hitters, Khris Davis and Chad Pinder, showed life. Davis got his first hit of 2020 after an 0-for-16 start. And Pinder, who came into the seventh inning 1-for-11 for the season, crushed a two-run homer that got the A’s even.

Pinder said that despite the fact that the A’s as a team came into the game with a .194 average and came into the seventh inning having just three singles, not much changed in his approach.

“You’ve got to take seven games with a grain of salt,” Pinder said. “We’re all just getting into the swing of things. Obviously, you want to put together competitive at-bats. But nine at-bats in, I can’t start hitting the panic button.

“That goes the same for everyone in our lineup. I don’t see anybody hitting the panic button. We’re just going to work trying to iron things out now that we’re back to .500 now.”

Pinder gave the A’s a scare in the fifth inning when he came up limping after being spiked while taking a throw at second base. His left leg got between the bag and runner J.P. Crawford, who was trying to steal. Crawford never touched the bag because Pinder had it blocked, but his spikes rode hard into Pinder’s leg.

“Yeah, I got hit pretty bad,” Pinder said. “I’m lucky it didn’t roll up or anything. My foot just got caught in an awkward position. He (Crawford) didn’t anything wrong. I just got caught in an awkward position.”

Davis, who’d sat out the previous two games because of his slump, fouled out in his first at-bat, then singled to center the second time up. It was a nice moment when Davis, with a wry smile at first base, called for the baseball, one to keep as a souvenir.

“Khris had some good swing today,” Melvin said. “He made a little adjustment with his hands today. And all the way around, I thought he had much better swings. He got the bat head out a little quicker, pulled a couple of balls today and just missed the first one. He’s made an adjustment where he doesn’t look like he’s late.”

The A’s got their usual overabundance of quality relief work once starter Mike Fiers (six innings, two runs), left the game. Jake Diekman, Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria (credited with the win) pitched scoreless baseball before Hendriks closed it out. Soria had the biggest moment, pitching in the ninth. He loaded the bases, but struck out the side, including getting Jose Marmolejos and Shed Long back to back after the bases were jammed.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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