OAKLAND — After Oakland Athletics shortstop Franklin Barreto struck out in the third inning, first baseman Yonder Alonso pulled him aside next to the helmet rack in the dugout.
Alonso told the struggling rookie to relax at the plate and try to get ahead of pitches. Barreto tripled off the right field wall in his next at-bat.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Barreto gave Oakland a 7-6 win with a blast to left — his first-ever walk-off home run. As the ball cleared the fence, Barreto extended his bat high in the air with his left hand and marvelled at his accomplishment.
“He’s special, man,” Alonso said. “He took it all in, he made an adjustment and you saw the potential that he has.”
Barreto’s home run broke Oakland’s eight-game home losing skid. It also bailed out closer Santiago Casilla, who surrendered a game-tying single to Melky Cabrera in the top of the ninth.
The Athletics surpassed three runs for the first time since June 28. Most of their production came against starter James Shields.
Just 10 days removed from a six-run start against Oakland in Chicago, Shields allowed six more to cross the plate in a rematch at the Coliseum. He gave up three home runs in 4.2 innings. Two of those long balls came off the bat of first baseman Yonder Alonso, Oakland’s lone representative at the 2017 MLB All Star Game.
Right fielder Matt Joyce put Oakland on the board with a two-run long ball to center field in the second. Alonso’s first home run – a high fly ball down the right field line – and an RBI triple from Barreto gave the Athletics a 4-2 fourth-inning lead.
But with one out in the fifth, Jose Abreu undid that early production.
Abreu entered his at-bat against Daniel Gossett 1-for-7 in the series. But it only took a couple of seconds for his second hit – a go-ahead three-run home run – to clear the left field fence.
Alonso countered in the bottom half. After Shields fell down reaching for a two-out ground ball, allowing designated hitter Khris Davis to reach first, Alonso’s two-run shot to left center knocked the right-hander out of the game.
In the cleanup spot due to a lineup adjustment from Bob Melvin, Alonso went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. He’s launched 19 home runs this season.
“It was pretty significant for him,” Melvin said. “We really do rely on the middle of our order. … So it’s good to get him back going like that.”
After Casilla blew his opportunity by allowing a two-out RBI knock to Cabrera, Barreto responded in the bottom of the ninth with his memorable walk-off blast.
Barreto said afterward he knew the ball was gone off the bat, a claim backed by the way he watched it sail into the stands from the batter’s box.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to help the team win,” Barreto said, “and I finally got to realize that today.”