Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

A’s weather disputed call, win on Crisp’s RBI single in 10th

06/21/2014 6:54 PM

06/21/2014 7:00 PM

OAKLAND -- Clearly the most pressing matter in the wake of the A’s 2-1, 10-inning win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon: With right fielder Josh Reddick on rehab assignment in Triple-A, who would deliver the celebratory pie in the face to Coco Crisp after his walk-off hit?

The answer: Yoenis Cespedes, who actually interrupted Crisp’s post-game TV interview with two whipped-cream pies, one in each hand. "It kind of caught me off-guard," Crisp said. "Pretty cool, though. He did a great job. It was a little tough to breathe."

The A’s, though, were breathing easier after securing a game they felt they should’ve had a chance to win in regulation. A controversial call on a Mike Napoli foul tip in the eighth had kept the inning alive for Dustin Pedroia to score on a wild pitch, tying the game at 1-1 and resulting in manager Bob Melvin getting ejected after the inning.

"It’s frustrating," Melvin said. "But there’s more game to be played. So you’ve got to put it past you and go out and continue to grind, and that’s what they did."

Alberto Callaspo led off the 10th with a walk from right-hander Edward Mujica and took second on Nick Punto’s sacrifice bunt. The Red Sox then brought in closer Koji Uehara to face Crisp, who had driven the game-winning run with an eighth-inning single Friday night.

Crisp lined the first pitch he saw from Uehara into right field, and Callaspo slid home in front of Brock Holt’s high throw to bring the A’s charging onto the field, winners of five in a row and a season-high 19 games over .500. Uehara had allowed just one of his six inherited runners to score this season, and had given up just five hits in 56 at-bats to left-handed batters.

With first base open, Crisp said he didn’t know whether the Red Sox would pitch around him or be aggressive, but, "I was taking the approach they were going to come after me.

"(Uehara) has a cutter and a good sinker, and then later on he tries to finish you off with his plus splitter," Crisp said. "I didn’t want to wait around for the splitter, so I was hoping he would come inside, to where I was looking."

Crisp wryly called it "another lucky guess." It was his seventh career walk-off RBI and second this season. The A’s won on a walk-off RBI for the fifth time this year and are 7-2 on this 10-game homestand against the big-name Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox.

"Just Coco being Coco again," said A’s starter Jesse Chavez, who threw seven scoreless innings but got a no-decision. "He goes, we go. He’s our jump-starter and it’s good to see him do that."

Over his last 19 games, Crisp is batting .373 (25-for-67) with 17 runs, two homers, 11 RBIs and 12 walks. As reporters began to drift away from his locker Saturday, though, Crisp wanted to keep talking -- about Punto. The latter’s sacrifice, Crisp pointed out, came with the Boston infield charging hard and Callaspo, not the fastest of runners, leading off first base.

"I wish there were assists in this game," Crisp said. "That would definitely be one heck of an assist. He did a great job."

* Now about that controversial eighth-inning call. With the A’s leading 1-0, two outs and runners on first and third, Napoli foul-tipped a two-strike pitch from Luke Gregerson that umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled bounced before being caught by A’s catcher Stephen Vogt.

Vogt immediately held out the ball to indicate he had caught it cleanly, which would have resulted in an inning-ending strikeout. Melvin quickly sprinted out to argue. The umpires met on the field, but did not overturn the call. Under replay rules, whether a tipped ball is caught or not isn’t a reviewable play.

So Melvin returned to the dugout as the inning continued. Gregerson’s next pitch kicked in front of Vogt, and Dustin Pedroia made an aggressive break for home, sliding in safely to tie the game. After Gregerson got Napoli to fly out to end the inning, he left the mound gesturing angrily at Wolcott. Melvin came out again to address Wolcott and was ejected.

After seeing replays, Melvin after the game said there was no doubt his arguments were justified. "(Vogt) caught it," Melvin said. "And you can’t review that play, so I mean, it’s tough. But my feeling is that if there’s a play that needs to be reviewed, you should be able to review it. You just can’t on that one."

Vogt said there was "no doubt in my mind that I had caught it," while Gregerson called it "an obvious catch." Vogt said he thought Wolcott may have heard his glove hit the dirt and thought it was the ball bouncing prior to being caught -- an explanation similar to the one given by umpiring crew chief Gerry Davis to a pool reporter after the game.

"Napoli foul tipped the ball," Davis said. "The plate umpire heard sound and thought the ball hit the ground and called it a foul ball.

"(First base umpire Greg Gibson) did not have anything different. We got together to talk about it. The only (way) we flip that is if the base umpire is positive; (Gibson) said that he was not. So we had to stay with the foul ball."

Melvin said when he came out after the inning, "I was objecting to (Wolcott) speaking to my pitcher. And then went into further stuff." He said he "didn’t want (Gregerson) to get thrown out and fined, so it’s my job to get in between that."

Gregerson was asked about the nature of his comments to Wolcott and said: "After the inning? I don’t think I said anything. … I don’t remember. Too much adrenaline."

* The controversial call aside, the Red Sox don’t tie the game on the next pitch without a highly aggressive play by Pedroia. While Gregerson’s pitch bounced, Vogt did block the ball to keep in front of him. "The block got away from me maybe two feet further than it should have," Vogt said. "But (Pedroia) made a great read."

Crisp, another aggressive baserunner, agreed that Pedroia’s break on the ball was "pretty amazing, actually."

"He obviously has that want to win in him," Crisp said. "That’s not necessarily one of a kind, but that’s what you have to have to be a special player like him. He gives it his all the whole time."

Pedroia slid in safely on a headfirst dive and popped up with an exuberant yell. Crisp said he admired the "ballsy" play. "Just wish he’d stay put next time," Crisp said.

"That was obviously a tough two pitches to swallow, for myself especially. I expect more out of myself than to let a block get away from me like that," Vogt said.

"(But) I think that’s the biggest thing with us, is no matter what happens, we forget about it and move on."

* For nine innings, meanwhile, Vogt accounted for most of the offense mustered by the A’s. Vogt led off the third with a triple off Rubby De La Rosa and scored on Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly, and also singled and walked, improving to 12-for-29 (.413) over his last 10 games.

"He’s been hot," Melvin said. "You look at the numbers since he’s gotten here, whether it’s pinch hitting, catching or playing right -- it hasn’t affected his hitting, being moved around like that."

Until the 10th, Vogt was the only A’s runner to advance past first base. The triple was the second of his major-league career. The other came last Aug. 31, against Tampa Bay.

"That was fun," Vogt said.

Off the bat, Vogt said, he thought the ball might clear the wall. Instead, it hit off the top and kicked away from center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Bradley, though, chased the ball down and unleashed a strong throw to make it a relatively close play at third, with Vogt deciding not to slide.

"Obviously in retrospect I wish I would’ve slid into third," said Vogt, who said the throw probably took both he and third-base coach Mike Gallego a little by surprise. "Gags kind of did a funky thing and I think he was saying, ‘Holy cow, there’s the ball, get down.’ I took it as stand up. It was a great throw. Fortunately I was just fast enough to beat it."

* Hard-luck honors go to Chavez, who allowed three hits in seven innings but received his fifth no-decision of the year. In four of those, he has allowed no more than one earned run while pitching six or more innings.

Chavez walked a season-high four in this outing, and as of the fourth inning he’d thrown nearly as many balls as strikes. But he didn’t allow a hit until Brock Holt’s leadoff single in the sixth. Chavez said early on he tried to think of the walks "like base hits, to where I wouldn’t get into that mentality of getting mad at myself, overthrowing and then leaving pitches over the middle of the plate."

The right-hander chalked his early wildness up to his landing leg "locking up a little bit, not allowing me to get extension." Melvin credited Chavez with making an adjustment mid-game to finish seven innings despite a high pitch count early. Chavez lowered his season ERA to 2.71, still second-lowest in the A’s rotation behind Scott Kazmir.

* The win ended up going to Dan Otero, who was pressed into action in the 10th and pitched around back-to-back one-out singles by Bradley and Brock Holt. Otero got Pedroia to fly out to shallow right, then struck out David Ortiz swinging for the third out.

"There’s no room for error there," Melvin said. "But he’s economical with his pitches, he keeps the ball down, he can get ground balls with guys on base. So you always feel like he’s one pitch away from getting out of the inning."

Otero has been opportunistic as well -- he’s now 6-1, with his six wins the most of any A’s reliever and tied for third on the staff.

* The A’s can make it a four-game sweep Sunday, but they face a tough task in Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester (8-7, 3.20). Tommy Milone (5-3, 3.56) starts for the A’s, with first pitch at 1:05 p.m.

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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