Clippard allows tying run, but limits damage
A's closer escapes jam after issuing bases-loaded walk
OAKLAND -- Closer Tyler Clippard needed 40 pitches to retire the Blue Jays in the ninth inning of the A's 4-3, 10-inning walk-off victory Wednesday night.
Though Clippard loaded the bases with no outs and struggled mightily most of the inning, he managed to escape having allowed just one run.
The outing was far from his best and not one he's proud of, but all things considered, it could have been much worse for Clippard.
"I was just grinding out there," he said. "I didn't have my best stuff tonight. I was a little out of whack."
Danny Valencia walked, Devon Travis doubled and Jose Reyes walked to start the frame. Clippard was already in danger of blowing the 3-2 lead and he hadn't even recorded an out.
Then came former A's star Josh Donaldson, potentially poised for the ultimate timely go-ahead hit.
Clippard said he didn't change his approach despite the pop throughout the heart of the Jays' order.
"I like facing guys with power usually," Clippard said. "They're more willing to expand the zone. They want to do damage, they want to swing the bat."
That's what happened to Donaldson, who waved at a 3-2 pitch out of the zone and struck out.
Clippard was only one Jose Bautista double play away from not giving up any runs, but instead he walked Bautista to plate Valencia.
His pitch count continued to skyrocket, as did the intensity in one of the least smooth innings in a season full of bumpy ones for the A's inconsistent bullpen.
Clippard said his poor changeup location was one of the most significant problems. Overall, he said, it was a case of simply not having his best stuff.
He said the adrenaline kept him focused on the next pitch and that the fatigue didn't really set in until after the inning ended. Clippard struck out Edwin Encarnacion and got Dioner Navarro to fly out to center, yielding just one run and keeping Oakland in the game.
The A's were in a similar situation Saturday, when Clippard blew a save in the ninth, but the club rallied to win in the 10th.
"Obviously the Donaldson strikeout was huge," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "and then he walks the next guy and that can get your focus off just a bit, and he didn't allow that. Getting us back in the dugout in a tied game certainly allowed us to win the game later."