OAKLAND — In a season where mistakes have come in bunches and the losses have piled up, one thing the A’s certainly aren’t guilty of is mailing it in when they fall behind.
Their knack for comebacks and late-game dramatics surfaced once again Friday night in a 9-8 victory over the Astros, who came in riding a seven-game winning streak and having won all six games played between the teams at the Coliseum this season.
Rather than wait for Saturday’s doubleheader, the A’s decided to cram two games’ worth of storylines into one nine-inning contest Friday. Here’s a glimpse of all that went down as they registered their 10th walk-off victory of 2017 …
—Rookie center fielder Boog Powell showed why he’s got the potential to become a fan favorite at the Coliseum in the coming years. He came up with his best all-around game as an Athletic. First came a leaping catch at the center field wall to rob Marwin Gonzalez in the second. Then he hustled out a single with a dive into first base that helped set up Marcus Semien’s game-tying grand slam in the seventh when the A’s trailed 7-3. Oakland trailed 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth when the light-hitting Powell homered on an 0-2 pitch from Astros closer Ken Giles. His hustling, aggressive style of play strikes a chord with the Coliseum crowd, and Powell definitely heard the chants of “Boooog” late in the game.
“One of the most amazing things of my career … so far,” Powell said.
—Semien has been effective getting on base as the leadoff man, but he hadn’t shown much power since coming off the disabled list for a broken wrist. But he turned on a slider from Luke Gregerson and hooked the game-tying slam inside the left-field foul pole in the seventh. The A’s homered four times overall, giving them 201 for the season, the fifth-highest total in franchise history.
“We’ve kind of been living and dying by it,” Semien said. “That’s not necessarily what we want. We want to be able to manufacture runs in all types of ways.”
—After giving up three homers for the second consecutive start, rookie Jharel Cotton wondered aloud if he might be tipping his pitches.
“I feel like what I was throwing, they knew it was coming,” Cotton said. “I gotta figure out if I’m tipping (pitches) or not. I gotta know what I’m doing and that can help me a lot. You can just tell the way they’re taking hacks on pitches I was throwing. I wasn’t fooling nobody today.”
Though he wasn’t using it as an excuse, Cotton has other troubles on his mind right now. His family back in the Caribbean has been hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Cotton said his father lost the roof on his house in Tortola, which is in the British Virgin Islands. His uncle’s house, in nearby St. Thomas, suffered similar damage. Thankfully, Cotton said his relatives were unharmed.
“It’s gonna be on my mind of course. Back home is a total disaster,” Cotton said. “Of course, you’re going to think about that. …They’re holding up. (My family’s) at home still, trying to recover. It’s gonna take a long time, but they’re strong.”
—Daniel Mengden, who starts Saturday’s second game for the A’s, hails from Houston, and though his family’s house hasn’t been affected by Hurricane Harvey, he has friends who have felt the impact.
“One of my buddy’s houses is about six feet deep,” Mengden said. “You can’t really prepare for 50 inches of rain no matter what you do.”
It’s a special event whenever Mengden faces the Astros. He grew up rooting for them and he played on a high school travel team coached by Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Mengden plans to train with Biggio’s son, Cavan, in the offseason.