3 key moments from A's wild road-trip finale

May 17th, 2021

Multiple factors could have led to the A’s standing down and resigning to defeat on Sunday afternoon. Instead, the resilience they’ve shown so often over the past few years showed up in a big way at Target Field to ensure a happy flight back to the Bay Area.

There were frustrations from a pair of crucial replay reviews that did not go their way in the early innings. There was the demoralizing feeling of another late-inning lead wiped out by a big homer. Yet by the end of it, the A’s came away with a 7-6 victory.

Now 8-1-2 over their last 11 series played after taking two of three from the Twins, the A’s to maintain their slight lead atop the American League West standings ahead of an upcoming showdown with the second-place Astros that opens on Tuesday at the Coliseum.

Several pivotal events took place on Sunday for the A’s to overcome a 4-1 deficit through the first three innings. Flustered by a couple of questionable replay review calls, Chris Bassitt gutted out five innings to depart with a one-run lead, a feat that looked unattainable early on with right-hander Deolis Guerra warming up in the second as Bassitt's pitch count quickly grew.

“I do not know how we survived it,” Bassitt said. “If you want to look at one game and say, ‘What are the Oakland A’s made of?’ This was the game. Every single thing went against us. Every single thing was wrong, and we still won.”

With so many to choose from, here are three key moments that led to the A’s winning a wild one in Minnesota:

1) Andrus makes a savvy move
Elvis Andrus is working his way back from a rough slump at the plate to begin the season. Though his batting average is still below .200, he continues to utilize his veteran experience to make game-winning plays in other ways. Another example of that came in the fifth inning on Sunday.

With the A’s already storming back for two runs on four straight hits and a groundout to lead off the fifth, Andrus -- who singled earlier in the inning -- found himself on third with only one out, representing the game-tying run. Breaking for the plate on a hard grounder to short by Ramón Laureano, Andrus was caught in a rundown between home and third.

But instead of giving himself up, Andrus baited rookie catcher Ben Rortvedt into making a throw back to Josh Donaldson at third. Shortly after Donaldson received the throw, Andrus slyly observed that the catcher’s left hand was in the running lane. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Andrus stuck out his left shoulder while running home and made contact with Rortvedt, generating a catcher’s interference call that allowed Andrus to be awarded home plate and tie the game, 5-5.

“Guys that know me, they get out of the way pretty fast,” Andrus said. “It’s usually a new guy in the league that doesn’t know that and he just stays there -- it’s pretty easy to get that one.”

Following Andrus’ sly move, the A’s took the lead one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman.

This was the second instance over the past week in which Andrus manufactured a run with his baserunning intelligence. During Wednesday’s win against the Red Sox, his constant running back and forth down the third-base line drew a balk from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, also allowing him to score.

2) Romo steps up
Yusmeiro Petit has been manager Bob Melvin’s go-to option for seventh-inning duties in close games. But heavy usage over the previous two days led to his unavailability on Sunday, leading to Romo getting the call in that spot.

Romo, who entered the day with a 7.30 ERA, has gone through his ups and downs this season. But Melvin has maintained his confidence in the veteran righty, and it was rewarded as Romo impressively tossed a scoreless seventh against the heart of the Twins' order to preserve a two-run lead. He then came back out for a strikeout of Twins slugger Miguel Sanó to begin the eighth.

Pulled for left-hander Jake Diekman after the punchout, Romo finished what was his first outing of more than one inning this season, keeping Minnesota off the board for 1 1/3 innings.

“Other guys have to step up in big situations,” Melvin said. “Sergio has done that his whole career. He did it again today.”

3) Laureano hustles to victory
The A’s refused to get down on themselves after Diekman surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to Andrelton Simmons in the bottom of the eighth. Fittingly, Laureano led the charge in a spirited rally immediately after in the ninth.

Reaching base on a one-out single against lefty Taylor Rogers, Laureano applied pressure on the bases while running to second on a comebacker by Matt Olson. The throw from Rogers was dropped at second by Donaldson, allowing Laureano to take third on the play. Four pitches later, Laureano flew down the line to score the go-ahead run as Chapman struck out on a pitch that bounced to the backstop.

“Talk about resilience,” Melvin said. “That’s a hard-fought win after [Saturday] night’s game. People keep asking me about how you respond from something like [Saturday]. These guys keep doing it. A lot of heart on this team.”