OAKLAND -- The A’s waited 10 innings to celebrate a win Wednesday night -- and then waited a little longer.
A two-minute, 45-second review was needed to determine whether Ike Davis had really beaten out an infield single with two outs in the 10th that scored Josh Reddick from third base. When the ruling came back from MLB’s replay office in New York -- that the call stood, and the A’s had beaten the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3 -- they were free to form their customary high-five line.
Only they didn’t. The A’s had already rushed the infield to mob Davis, and had to stand there while the umpiring crew waited for word on whether the game was over or headed to the 11th inning. So they took the time to decide a course of action if Davis was indeed ruled safe.
"It’s awkward," Reddick said. "The whole time we’re thinking that if they turn this over we’re going to look like a bunch of idiots out here.
"Once they ruled him safe, we had planned we were just going to sprint off with no high-fives. So once they did that, we just took off and came in the dugout."
To a man, the A’s bolted for the dugout and into the clubhouse, with Davis remaining on the field to do a post-game TV interview. Reddick stayed, too, to pie Davis in the face -- a mixture of whipped cream and ranch dressing, since the former had run out -- and two other teammates dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Davis’ head after his fifth walk-off hit of his career.
Davis said it was the first time his game-winning hit had been of the infield variety. Pinch hitting for catcher Josh Phegley against hard-throwing right-hander Roberto Osuna, Davis quickly fell behind, 0-2, but fouled off a couple of pitches and then shot a grounder into the hole between third base and shortstop. Toronto’s Jose Reyes made a backhand play and strong throw that was remarkable for even making the play close.
"I honestly didn’t think he was going to catch it," Davis said. "Soon as I hit it I was like, oh that’s a hit … Thankfully it went our way."
Davis had spent the entire game up to that point on the bench, and said he’d taken a few swings in the cage -- in the fifth inning. He also hadn’t done a lot of running before his dash from the batter’s box to first.
"Wasn’t moving too fast," he said.
But fast enough. The bang-bang play allowed Reddick, who had entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the 10th and doubled with one out, to sprint home from third with the game-winning run -- at least, after it was decided there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn first-base umpire Marvin Hudson’s original call.
"It felt like the longest replay we’ve had all year," Reddick said.
As odd as those three minutes were for the A’s players on the field, they were equally strange for those watching from the replay room in the A’s clubhouse. Starting pitcher Sonny Gray was inside, as was manager Bob Melvin, who had been ejected from the game in the fifth inning.
"Right when the play happened, at first I was just standing there like …" Gray said, and made a long, expressive shrug of his shoulders.
"You look at it in real time and it’s close," Melvin said. "They stayed with what we’re told they’re supposed to do, is if there’s no definitive over-turn, you stay with it. It was a little nerve-wracking sitting there waiting for the verdict. But we’ll take it."
The A’s had led for the most of the game until Toronto rallied to tie it, 3-3, in the ninth against closer Tyler Clippard. That took Gray out of line for a win, but the A’s managed still to even this three-game series and avoid what would have been a frustrating loss.
Even if they had to wait two minutes, 45 seconds for it to become official.
"We were having a bunch of fun out there, planning our exit," Davis said of the waiting period. "If not, we were going to be pretty upset. But we had fun out there, and it was good to get the W."
* Melvin credited Reddick and Davis both for their approach in the 10th, as it was the first at-bat of the game for both players. Osuna was throwing in the mid-to-high 90s. Reddick fought a pitch off down the left-field line for a bloop double. Davis fouled off two 0-2 fastballs at 97 mph and took a mid-90s pitch for a ball before shooting another fastball to the 5-6 hole.
"He threw it by me twice, so I was like, oh man, I’ve got to shorten up and see the ball," Davis said. "If I get jammed, I get jammed. They were playing a little shift, and in my head (I’m thinking), a jam might not be a bad idea -- it might find a hole over there."
Reddick said Osuna was difficult to pick up with a "short-arm" delivery, but it looked as though "just trying to shoot it through that hole was what (Davis) was trying to do the whole time. So great at-bat by him."
* Clippard blew the save chance in the ninth, but it could have been worse. The Blue Jays loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a double. Clippard struck out Josh Donaldson, but walked Jose Bautista to force in the tying run. He came back to strike out cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion, and got Dioner Navarro to fly out to end the inning.
"I was just grinding out there, man," said Clippard, who threw 40 pitches in the inning. "I didn’t have my best stuff tonight, a little out of whack, I wasn’t able to locate with my changeup at all, and that’s a pitch I need … I was happy to get out of it with only one run, keep the team in the game."
The Donaldson at-bat was high drama, with the third baseman getting a chance to bury a dagger in his former team. Clippard bounced his 2-2 pitch about two feet in front of the plate, but came back with a high changeup, and Donaldson swung through it for the out. Clippard said he wanted the pitch to be a strike, but he "got under it a little bit."
"But I do get swings and misses on that pitch every now and then," Clippard said. "It looks good to the hitter, if it’s up in the zone and slower they’re more willing to take a hack at it, and especially in a situation like that he wants to do something right there."
Clippard then walked Bautista on five pitches, and his 3-1 offering was not close. But he came back to strike out Encarnacion in an at-bat in which Encarnacion swung and missed at three fastballs.
"I threw a 1-0 heater and he swung through it," Clippard said. "Anytime, bases loaded, you get behind a hitter and he swings through a fastball, for me just reading that swing it felt like I was comfortable coming with that pitch the rest of the at-bat, and it worked. He was late on the other two I threw him, and got the strikeout."
The 40 pitches are the most Clippard has thrown in an inning in the majors, according to baseball-reference.com, and he admitted afterward it was "taxing." He took solace in the fact that, while unable to protect the lead, he did preserve the tie.
"That’s tough, cause now you’re in a no-win situation and all you can do is keep it tied, and you’ve got the middle of their order up and some very tough customers to have to deal with," Melvin said. "To be able to get back in the dugout in a tied game certainly allowed us to win the game later."
* Melvin earned his 369th win as manager of the A’s, moving into sole possession of third place on the Oakland-era leaderboard. Ironically, he watched the second half from inside the clubhouse after being ejected by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt amid an odd scene in the fifth.
With Stephen Vogt up, Billy Burns stole second base on a pitch that Wendelstedt called a strike. It looked like catcher Russell Martin had set up for a pitch-out, but the pitch came in over the plate and Martin reached back for it before making his throw to second. After Melvin said something from the dugout, Wendelstedt quickly ejected him from the game. Here was Melvin’s explanation:
"I think there was a little bit of a miscommunication," he said. "I was asking if it was a pitching and I think he thought I was continuing to argue. I was actually going to come out there and say, look, I thought it was a pitchout. And he thought I was continuing to argue. And therefore, I got to watch the rest of it inside."
* Coming off a start in which he allowed two homers for just the second time in his MLB career, Gray gave up nine hits but held the Blue Jays to two runs in seven innings. He got out of a jam in the fourth, when Toronto loaded the bases with one out but Devon Travis hit a sharp liner right at second baseman Ben Zobrist, who doubled Danny Valencia off of first base.
Gray gave up an RBI single to Donaldson in the third inning and Valencia’s solo homer in the seventh. He labored through the third, but recovered to complete seven innings on 103 pitches and credited the Blue Jays with making him work throughout the game.
"You’re trying to get a lot of ground balls, and they were just kind of hitting it in places that we weren’t," Gray said. "They had a really, really good approach going into the game. We could tell after the first inning. It was definitely, they were going to make us work tonight."
Gray took a comebacker off the foot in the sixth inning, but stayed in the game after a brief visit from a trainer. Third baseman Brett Lawrie made an athletic play to corral the ricochet and throw out Encarnacion -- one of a few sharp plays by the A’s defense on Wednesday night.
Jake Smolinski also made a diving catch to rob Chris Colabello of a hit in right field in the fourth, scored the A’s first run after reaching on a Donaldson error in the fourth and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The newest A’s player is 7-for-16 with five runs and seven RBIs in six games with Oakland.
"It’s great to see that you go to a new team and right away you’re impactful, which I’ve often said really makes you feel like you’re part of it that much quicker," Melvin said.
* It’s a quick turnaround to the series finale. The A’s will start left-hander Scott Kazmir (5-5, 2.38) against Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchinson (9-2, 5.19). First pitch at 12:35 p.m.