BY STEVEN LUKE
For the first time since interleague play was introduced, the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants met with more than standings on the line in the finale of their season series. The Bridge Trophy, made out of metal from an old span of the Bay Bridge, was up for grabs in today’s match up. The winner of the game would take the award home.
With the series lead the A’s would take it by winning the series 4-2, but the Giants could take it by splitting the series and winning the final game. Both teams battled till the bitter end, but the A’s took the trophy with a 6-5 win in extra innings after a Matt Chapman walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning.
This game was nearly a carbon copy of how the A’s have won games this season. Strong starting pitching, home runs, and failing to hit with runners in scoring position, but there was one thing missing, a lights-out bullpen with the lead. In the seventh inning Sean Manaea left with a 4-1 lead, but by the end of the inning the score was 4-4 and it was a new ballgame. Manaea was replaced by Emilio Pagan who faced one batter, Austin Slater.
Slater singled to put runners on first and third. In came Lou Trivino who has been one of manager Bob Melvin’s most reliable arms, but today wasn’t his day. Bruce Bochy countered the move with pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval who singled in both runners. With one man on and down by one Bochy went back to his bench and Alen Hanson delivered with a run scoring single. “How many times does anyone get to Trivino like what happened today? That just doesn’t happen very often,” Melvin said. Melvin was right, it doesn’t happen often to Trivino. It hasn’t happened in his last 15 innings and it broke his scoreless streak.
With the game tied Melvin turned to another reliable arm in the eighth inning, Yusmiero Petit. Petit didn’t give up multiple hits like Trivino did, but he did give up the lead on a home run by Andrew McCutchen. Yet, no lead is safe against the 2018 A’s and Khris Davis tied it back up in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run. It was his second homer of the game joining Matt Olson in the two home run club on the day.
“Today the long ball came out for us too, which was big with Olson and Davis who supply a good deal of the power for us,” Melvin said. “Confidence wise we needed that. Coming back from the break we haven’t swung the bat very well, and really haven’t driven too many balls, so that felt good right away with KD’s home run and Oly’s two, then KD’s tying the game.” While Olson and Davis kept the A’s in the game with their power it was one timely hit that got it done in the tenth inning.
With two runners on and two outs, Matt Chapman came up to bat against Ty Blach. In that situation against the Giants there is one place you don’t want to hit it, anywhere near gold glove winner Brandon Crawford, but that’s just what Chapman did. The ball was slowly hit and took a big bounce that squeezed under the glove of Crawford and rolled out into center field allowing Semien to score from second to win the game.
“I just wanted to beat it out. I wasn’t anticipating the run scoring on that play,” Chapman said. “I think I would have beat it out, but we’ll never know now.” The game winning hit was the first walk-off of his career. After Chapman ended it Melvin was presented with the Bridge trophy and tried to hold it up for the fans. “I think I broke it trying to pick it up,” Bob Melvin said. “It’s heavier than I thought. It’s got to be at least 50 pounds.”
The home runs, big hits and trophy were huge parts of the day, but the saving grace was the pitching of newcomer Jeurys Familia, the only A’s pitcher on the day not to give up a run. He came into the game for the top of the ninth and pitched two scoreless innings in his A’s debut to keep the game knotted at five. This just one day after he passed medicals, left the only team he has ever known at the big league level in his career, with catchers he’s never thrown to and a language barrier. It wasn’t easy, but he was prepared.
“It was really difficult,” he said through his interpreter. “I spent 11 years there (with the Mets), six years in the big leagues, it was really tough to say goodbye to some of those guys, but I was prepared. My agent already knew I was going to get moved. I had a lot of help along the way.”
The A’s will next look to continue their winning ways in Texas as they travel to face the Rangers. Brett Anderson (1-2, 6.08) will take the mound for the A’s against Cole Hamels (5-8, 4.36) in Monday night’s series opener.