The Swingin’ A’s stayed alive.
Midway through Game 3 of their American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Oakland looked like a team set for elimination. And then they rallied.
Led by the big bat of Chad Pinder, the A’s climbed back into the game with three runs in the seventh and they plated another two in the eighth to come away with a tremendous 9-7 victory.
Here are four things to know as the A’s picked up a win, but still trail two-games-to-one in the best-of-five game series.
Starter Jesus Luzardo looked solid heading to the fifth, but then the Astros got it going. Manager Bob Melvin yanked his young lefty with one out and the game tied at 4-4. He handed the ball to Yusmeiro Petit who promptly hit George Springer and started an Astros rally.
After giving up three hits and a walk, Petit was pulled in favor of Jake Diekman. He eventually got the A’s out of the inning, but not before Houston had pinned five total runs on Oakland pitchers and taken a 7-4 lead.
It looked bleak for Oakland, but they weren’t done
Pinder to the rescue
Oakland’s season appeared in jeopardy when Matt Chapman went down with a hip injury. The acquisition of Jake Lamb turned out to be a stroke of genius and when his big left-handed bat quieted down, Melvin turned to one of his favorites to fill in at third base.
Pinder’s performance in the field and at the plate has helped the A’s get this deep into the postseason. Batting third for a second straight game, Oakland’s utility man went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in for the game. His monster three-run homer in the seventh tied the game and gave the A’s new life. His sac fly in the eighth gave the team an insurance run.
Everyone homers, everyone wins
Blame it on the jet stream hovering over Dodger Stadium or maybe global warming, but the ball has been flying out of the park at a historic rate in this series. Oakland hitters went deep five times on Wednesday, including four solo shots in the first five innings.
Their 10 home runs in the series set a new franchise record, surpassing the nine hit by A's sluggers during the 1989 World Series. According to Ryan Spaeder, this was also the first time in Major League history that all four infielders (Pinder, Marcus Semien, Tommy La Stella and Matt Olson) hit a home run in a single playoff game.
Liam Hendriks hadn’t pitched in the first two games of the series, but Melvin turned to his closer in the seventh and let him finish it. Hendriks was pumped up and rose to the challenge.
It wasn’t perfect, but the Australian-born righty sawed through the Astros bats, striking out four and allowing just one hit in the A’s victory. He threw 38 pitches, which is a concern for Thursday’s Game 4 matchup, but in a win-or-go-home scenario, Melvin got the most out of his best reliever.