The A's lived to see another day with a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series at the Oakland Coliseum.
But they got a little help from home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski along the way.
With the A's up 5-0 in the top of the eighth inning, manager Bob Melvin decided to go with closer Liam Hendriks to try to get the final six outs of a do-or-die game for Oakland.
Tim Anderson greeted Hendriks with a single and Yasmani Grandal crushed a one-out, two-run homer two batters later to cut the A's lead to 5-2. After another single by José Abreu, things got interesting.
Nomar Mazara pinch-hit for designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and ran the count full. A walk would have brought AL Rookie of the Year candidate Luis Robert to the plate representing the tying run.
Hendriks' seventh pitch of the at-bat appeared to be ball four, but Muchlinski wrung up Mazara on strike three. The pitch clearly was off the plate.
The White Sox bench was not happy with the call and let Muchlinski know about it.
ESPN broadcasters Dave Fleming and Jessica Mendoza didn't agree with the call and voiced their displeasure.
"Wow, the call went Hendriks' way," Fleming said. "[Mazara] was convinced that was ball four and Muchlinski wrung him up. My goodness, what a break for the A's."
"That's a ball, it's off the plate, it's inside, but it's good location," Mendoza said as the broadcast showed several replays. "You see where it is, about an inch-and-a-half off the plate, in and that is a tough pitch for strike three if you're Nomar Mazara."
Fleming and Mendoza emphasized that if the pitcher had been called a ball, the A's would have been bad situation.
"At that point, the A's are squirming, one swing away from a tie game," Fleming said.
Robert would strike out to end the eighth, snuffing out the rally with just two runs scored.
The White Sox again threatened in the top of the ninth, scoring a run on a bases-loaded walk to Grandal by Jake Diekman. But Abreu couldn't come through with the bases loaded, grounding out to second base to end the game.
We'll never know if the White Sox would have tied the game or taken the lead had Mazara walked in the eighth. But we do know that the A's greatly benefited from the call.
Now, the A's and White Sox will play a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday at 12 p.m. PT.