Nine innings of white knuckle baseball.
For the first time since Game 7 of the 1973 World Series, the Oakland A’s won a playoff elimination game on Thursday, beating the Chicago White Sox, 6-4, in Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series.
It wasn’t pretty for either team, but the A’s, behind strong pitching from their bullpen, a keen eye at the plate and some huge two-out at-bats, found a way to emerge victorious.
Here are three things to know as the A’s advance to take on the rival Houston Astros in the Division Series.
The A’s looked like they were in trouble in the fourth, trailing 3-0, but Sean Murphy's two-out, two-run homer got them on the board. Then, after Robbie Grossman walked and Marcus Semien doubled down the left-field line, Sox manager Rick Renteria made a call that will go down in infamy.
In order to get reliever Carlos Rondon to his three-batter minimum, Renteria intentionally walked Chad Pinder to load the bases. Renteria then replaced Rondon with Matt Foster and it all came undone for Chicago. Foster couldn’t find the plate, walking Mark Canha and Matt Olson to score the tying and go-ahead runs for Oakland. He eventually got Khris Davis to fly out to right, but not before the damage was done.
It’s a Billy Beane staple. He scours the baseball world for players who are willing to make opposing pitchers work, and against the Sox, it was the deciding factor.
Oakland hitters burned through nine Chicago pitchers in a marathon performance. White Sox pitchers threw 163 pitches over eight innings, walking nine batters and allowing eight hits in one of the longest nine-inning games in recent memory.
The A’s went all-in on Murphy this season. They didn’t even bring in a veteran backup to help support the prized young backstop.
Throughout the season, Murphy's defense behind the plate has been top notch, and he has shown an ability to call a quality game. Against the White Sox, he also demonstrated his ability to impact the game with his bat.
Murphy hit a whopping .375 in the series, including the two-run homer that started Oakland's comeback. The A’s have left him in the ninth hole, but they might want to reconsider that as they move onto the next round.