OAKLAND – Just when Rajai Davis appeared to save the A’s night in the most creative way possible, Danny Espinosa had other ideas.
The Angels second baseman crushed a three-run homer off Ryan Dull with one out in the ninth that handed the A’s a stunning 7-6 defeat at the Coliseum.
In the bottom of the seventh, Davis made an electrifying dash around the bases, tripling in two runs and scoring on Espinosa’s throwing error on the play. That turned a 4-3 A’s deficit into a 6-4 lead, and they appeared on their way to their first 2-0 record to start a season since 2004.
Instead, with runners on the corners in the ninth, Espinosa turned around an 0-2 pitch from Dull and cleared the wall in right-center. Dull got the call from manager Bob Melvin for the save situation after Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth. Santiago Casilla handled the ninth Monday and got the dave.
Putting Davis’ play in the books as a two-run triple doesn’t do it justice. With two runners aboard, Davis hit a liner the opposite way that glanced off the glove of Angels first baseman Jefry Marte. It ricocheted far enough into foul territory down the right field line for both runners to score. Davis motored around second and kept going for third. He dove in safely, and Espinosa’s throw to third skipped past Yunel Escobar, allowing Davis to complete the round trip to home plate.
Starting pitching report
It was an odd night for A’s lefty Sean Manaea in that he posted 1-2-3 innings in four of his six frames, only to have the Angels score four runs in the other two. He gave up three in the second, a rally that was keyed by Angels catcher Martin Maldonado. Manaea was trying to work his way out of a bases-loaded jam, but Maldonado’s single to right field scored two to put Los Angeles ahead. Escobar followed with another run-scoring single and a 3-1 lead. There’s rarely an A’s-Angels tilt that doesn’t include Mike Trout hurting Oakland. The A’s had pulled to within one, but on cue, Trout tripled down the left-field line in the fifth to score Kole Calhoun to make it a 4-2 game at that point.
Manaea’s season debut lasted six innings. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out four.
Melvin said he would get creative in using his late-inning relief corps and he meant it. After Liam Hendriks got through a scoreless seventh and the A’s took the lead, he called on Madson — last year’s primary closer — in the eighth inning for the second night in a row. Madson preserved a 4-2 lead, and Dull — whose specialty last year was entering mid-inning with runners on base — got the call for the ninth.
At the plate
Until providing the seventh-inning excitement, Davis was 1-for-8 from the leadoff spot to begin his second stint with Oakland. In his one time reaching base during those first eight at-bats, he was throwing out stealing second in the third inning Tuesday. He made up for it though with the go-ahead play in the seventh.
The A’s have homered five times — all solo shots — in the first two games. Designated hitter Ryon Healy went deep in the first and Jed Lowrie homered in the second.
In the field
Maldonado, who the Angels acquired from the Brewers in the offseason, impacted the game hugely with his arm in the early innings. After Marcus Semien walked with two outs in the second, Maldonado whipped a throw behind him to pick him off first. Rajai Davis reached on an infield single in the third, only to be thrown out trying to steal as Maldonado delivered a strike to second.
For the second night in a row, Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun turned in a beauty. He extended all-out for a diving catch to rob Lowrie in the eighth.
Twenty-four hours after the Opening Night buzz, the announced turnout was 11,225.
Jharel Cotton (2-0, 2.15 last season) takes the hill for his 2017 debut against right-hander Garrett Richards (1-3, 2.34). Cotton beat the Angels in his major league debut in September, holding them to one run over 6 1/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.