Khris Davis hits go-ahead bomb as Oakland Athletics stay in hot pursuit of Yankees

The Oakland Athletics had not had a hit since the fourth inning. With the New York Yankees — just a game ahead in the Wild Card standings — leading Toronto 8-0, the A’s had to find a way to keep pace.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, Oakland saw the Tampa Bay Rays come back the very next half inning to tie things up.

Leading off the 10th, Davis took the first two pitches he saw from the Rays’ ninth pitcher of the night — Jaime Schultz — before hammering a 94-mph fastball up in the zone to right center, his 18th go-ahead homer of the season. That would be all closer Blake Treinen would need, as he went two innings for his seventh win, as the A’s came out on top, 2-1.

Oakland still trails New York by one game, after the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 10-0, but the win moved the A’s (90-58) nine games over Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card slot, and reduced their magic number to seven.

The A’s came out on top despite facing almost the entire Rays bullpen. Diego Castillo (who has pitched in 37 games and started six) opened and threw two innings. He gave way to Ryne Stanek, who has started 25 of his 51 games this season. He threw one inning. Ryan Yarbrough threw the fourth, and gave up Oakland’s first run.

Following a Matt Chapman double with one out in the fourth, Matt Olson squirted a single up the middle against the shift to put the A’s up, 1-0. The only other Athletic to reach base before the 10th was Matt Joyce. He reached on a sixth-inning fielding error by shortstop Willy Adames, and was erased by an inning-ending double play by Jed Lowrie.

A’s starter Edwin Jackson went a solid five — scattering four hits and walking two — but gave up the game-tying single to former A’s farmhand Joey Wendle, one batter after allowing a first-pitch Tommy Pham double to center.

Tampa Bay (80-66) nearly got to reliever Shawn Kelley in the sixth, with a Mallex Smith ground ball single and a first-pitch bunt single by Matt Duffy. Olson came in to field the bunt, but nobody covered first. A wild pitch with Ji-Man Choi at the plate moved both men into scoring position.

Kelley then fanned Choi with a wipe-out slider, got Tommy Pham to foul out to Olson and, after falling behind 2-0 to Adames, came back and got a called strike three on the outside corner to end the inning.

Oakland could find no purchase against the nine pitchers the Rays sent to the mound — an outgrowth of their pioneering opener strategy — until Davis slugged his 42nd home run of the season in the 10th.

The A’s played three different left fielders next to Laureano, thanks to the constant pitching turnover, starting Nick Martini (0-for-1), before going to Mark Canha (0-for-1), Joyce (0-for-1), pinch runner Dustin Fowler (no plate appearances) and finally Chad Pinder, who stayed in the game after popping out for Fowler in the ninth.

Pinder stayed in the game despite rolling his ankle on a bullpen mound pursuing a foul pop up.

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