OAKLAND — It only took 19 seconds to figure out that the Oakland Athletics wouldn’t be no hit on Sunday afternoon.
With two outs in the eighth and the A’s still in search of their first hit, Marcus Semien grounded a comebacker up the middle that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez stopped with his heel before collecting and throwing to first.
While Semien was initially called out, the play was overturned after a brief replay review. The shortstop’s hustle helped the club avoid getting no hit for the first time since 1991, and an inning later, Khris Davis made sure the A’s would avoid a sweep.
“[It was a] pretty extreme [shift],” manager Bob Melvin said following the 1-0 walk-off win. “You almost didn’t have time to be happy with the way things were going.”
After Danny Valencia walked to begin the ninth, Davis hammered a double into the left-field corner. Valencia was able to race home all the way from first thanks to an error from Brock Holt.
Davis, who’d struck out in two of his previous three at bats, said the game plan was to ambush Boston Red Sox’s closer Craig Kimbrel.
“Definitely jump him early — just because he’d walked Danny and I knew he was just trying to get ahead,” Davis explained. “So, I didn’t want to miss the first one.”
Graveman has another strong outing
Whenever starter Kendall Graveman takes the Coliseum mound, “Sweet Home Alabama” plays through the stadium speakers. It’s a fitting tune for the right-hander, who entered Sunday’s start with the fifth-best home ERA in the American League.
“Kendall’s our ace right now,” Semien said. “Kendall gives us a chance every time.”
In the finale against the Red Sox, it was more of the same for Graveman, who scattered six hits and struck out seven in 6.1 innings of scoreless work.
It looked like Graveman had run into trouble in the fourth. With runners on first and second and one out, Graveman nearly induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Sandy Leon.
Instead, the Red Sox catcher narrowly beat the relay to first and Mookie Betts was called safe at second after a replay review. With one out and the bases loaded, Graveman got a line out and a soft grounder to escape.
“That was huge,” Melvin said. “We have a potential double play, now it’s bases loaded and he gets out of it. That right there was the key to the game.”karl buscheckKendall GravemanMarcus SemienMLBOakland Athletics