Austin Allen’s single to score Matt Chapman in the bottom of the 13th set the things up for Marcus Semien in the A’s 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Semien sealed the deal with a walk-off single to center field. Semien smiled celebrated with an ice bath from Tony Kemp. It was a much-need victory over the Astros for both Semien and the A's.
GAME. OVER. pic.twitter.com/7kAUzMGb2F— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 8, 2020
For Semien, the big hit was a long time coming.
“For me, it’s trying to be on time,” Semien told reporters following the 13-inning game. “I’ve been struggling with my timing a little bit, so just being on time, and same thing with Austin. Like I said, that guy was getting guys to chase up, so anything that is hard and a little lower, just attack it. I put a lot of work in earlier in the day just trying to hit line drives to the opposite field and it’s a good feeling when it clicks because for a while it hadn’t been clicking.”
Semien wasn’t hitting the ball hard, he explained. And when that happens, there’s a reason for it.
“My stroke feels good, but sometimes it’s approach, sometimes it’s timing -- body position, a lot of things that could be,” Semien added. “That’s what early work is for, cage work. Once you get in the game, you just have to compete.”
[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
Semien said he has to create habits that work.
“It’s tough because you think you have to tinker with everything,” Semien added.
Semien wasn’t sure what that tinkering would consist of: Would he need to work on his swing? Not necessarily. The timing was definitely a factor, but Semien also believes opposing teams were attacking him differently.
That seems to be the case when he leaves a third-place AL MVP season behind him in 2019.
“They’re being more careful, you saw that with Texas,” Semien said. “I’m trying to take the low pitches, sometimes they’re calling them, and you just find yourself in 0-for-3 like that. I think today was a good day to build off.”
“They know last year I put up some good numbers and you’re not getting as much to hit. You think that you’re just going to get the same pitches that they threw last year and that’s part of it, kind of created some bad habits early on. Even since spring and Summer Camp, just hadn’t really been driving the ball well.”
Semien said he’s working on that every day. It hasn't gone unnoticed.
“Marcus, I think has set the tone and built the culture here,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt told reporters during his postgame availability. “Obviously I think [Matt] Chapman and [Matt] Olson and those guys have caught on to just the work ethic that Semien brings every single day.”
Bassitt himself had a good outing, allowing just three hits and one earned run in seven innings. That brings his total to just two earned runs allowed in 16 2/3 innings this season. But this wasn’t about him at the moment despite his solid outing in the 13-inning game. He wanted to give Semien his moment.
“It’s not a matter of when [Semien] walks up to the plate, but whenever he does, you know you are getting the best effort from him every single night,” Bassitt said. “Doesn’t matter what at-bat, what inning. Anytime he walks up with the game on the line, I’m extremely confident in him.”