The Oakland Athletics continued their winning start to May as they defeated the Texas Rangers 5-4 on Monday courtesy of a walk-off homerun in the tenth by designated hitter Hideki Matsui. Grant Balfour escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the tenth and Matsui ended the game with his swing on the first pitch of the bottom of the tenth.
A’s starter Brandon McCarthy struggled with at times but made it through six innings. He gave up four runs but all were unearned due to errors. Of course, they were due to two errors by Brandon McCarthy so it is a little difficult to qualify them as truly “unearned.” Nonetheless, McCarthy kept the A’s in the game long enough to get a close battle turned over to the A’s solid bullpen.
The A’s offense took an early lead in the second inning on a Cliff Pennington bunt single. Texas bounced back with two runs in the top of the third on a MIchael Young double to deep left center. After Kurt Suzuki evened it up, Texas added two more runs in the fifth inning. Fortunately for McCarthy and the A’s, the normally inconsistent offense was able to scratch through a pair of runs to tie it up heading into the ninth inning.
Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz and Brian Fuentes all did their jobs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, before Grant Balfour ran into trouble in the tenth. Balfour struck out Michael Young, but then walked three of the next four hitters around a Nelson Cruz fly out. Fortunately for the A’s, Balfour struck out Yorvit Torrealba swinging to end the threat.
In the bottom of the tenth, Hideki Matsui ended things as he hit an absolute no-doubter to right field. Rangers relief pitcher Darren Oliver fired in his first pitch out 88 miles per hour and it was right in Matsui’s wheelhouse.
The A’s victory gets them back over .500 for the first time since April 19 when they beat the Boston Red Sox to improve to 9-8. They are now 15-14, sitting one game back of the Texas Rangers and one and a half back of the Los Angeles Angels. They open up a three game series with the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday before heading on the road for six games.