A's ride momentum of big inning to lopsided win

Three key developments from the marathon middle-game win

July 13th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Even as the A’s have carried the worst record in baseball for the better part of a month now, at no point has manager Mark Kotsay felt a need for closed-door meetings or any of the typical practices common with struggling teams. There’s sound reasoning behind that.

Frustration has mounted in what is a rebuilding season, yet the first-year manager has constantly voiced the pride he takes in the fighting spirit of his players. No matter how tough a blow these A’s receive, they come back to deliver their own. Tuesday night’s exhilarating 14-7 victory over the Rangers in 12 innings at Globe Life Field was an example of why Kotsay remains pleased with the effort in what might just be the trademark win of his short tenure.

“That was a roller coaster,” said A’s catcher Sean Murphy. “That game had a little bit of everything. They jumped out [to a lead]. We came back. They came back. That was a great game. Fans got their money’s worth tonight.”

It’s hard to decide where to begin in the thrilling back-and-forth contest. With so much to unpack, here are three key moments from the four-hour, three-minute marathon that took place in Arlington:

Snead’s clutch moment
There was a lot for Kotsay to digest after witnessing what ended as the longest game in Globe Life Field history in terms of innings. However, when asked what stood out the most to him, Kotsay did not hesitate to mention left-hander Kirby Snead and the job he did to wiggle out of a serious late-inning jam.

Replacing Zach Jackson in the bottom 11th of a 6-6 tie with runners at the corners and only one out, Snead had little room for error facing Kole Calhoun, a long tormentor of the A’s over the years, who had already delivered a crucial blow in the ninth by driving in the game-tying run on a two-out single against closer Lou Trivino.

Though he struggled in Monday night’s loss with two runs allowed in just 1 1/3 innings, Snead bounced back in a big way with a strikeout of Calhoun. After issuing an intentional walk to Sam Huff to load the bases with two outs, Snead struck out Steven Duggar to keep the A’s alive. Both strikeouts came on the slider, Snead’s signature pitch.

It wasn’t a perfect job by the A’s bullpen in relief of starter James Kaprielian, who allowed three runs in five innings, but it managed to cover the game’s final seven innings with a handful of big moments in tough spots, none tougher than the one Snead faced.

“The biggest moment in the game was Kirby Snead coming in and getting Calhoun,” Kotsay said. “Knowing he can’t walk Duggar, to get him as well. That was a big momentum swing and really lifted the ballclub. Then the offense responded.”

An eight-run eruption
Feeding off the momentum generated by Snead, the A’s offense exploded for eight runs in the 12th, marking the club’s highest-scoring inning of the season.

Chad Pinder, who began the inning as the automatic runner on second base and scored the go-ahead run on Vimael Machín's sacrifice fly, eventually came up to bat later in the frame and capped the A’s scoring by launching a grand slam into the left-field seats. Also featured in the inning was an important first Major League hit for rookie Dermis Garcia, who provided insurance by smashing an RBI double into left field.

“That’s the type of win that means a lot to guys,” Murphy said. “Everybody stepped up and did a job. All the young guys had great swings in that big inning. [Vimael] Machín with a big sac fly there. Dermis. Nicky [Allen] had a great at-bat to work a walk. Those are pressure spots and those guys put together professional at-bats that should give them confidence going ahead.”

Murph’s continued turnaround
After offseason adjustments at the plate that led to a scintillating performance in Spring Training, Murphy entered the 2022 campaign seemingly primed for an offensive breakout.

Had it not been for a slow first month-and-a-half, Murphy might have found himself playing in next week’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. After hitting just .193 through his first 50 games, Murphy is now batting .318 over his last 29 contests.

On Tuesday, Murphy reached base in all six of his plate appearances, finishing 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. That’s only half his value, though. The reigning American League Gold Glove Award winner also caught all 12 innings and provided some major saves behind the plate on would-be wild pitches.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, no A’s catcher in the Oakland era has ever led all Major League catchers in extra-base hits over a season. Having upped his total to 31 on Tuesday, Murphy is currently tied with Chicago’s Willson Contreras for the most extra-base hits by a catcher this season.

“Murph, over the last few weeks, his at-bats have been great,” Kotsay said. “Having him in the middle as a presence, it’s a big impact on this lineup.”