The Athletics win in walk-off fashion again

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I’d be lying if I said I stayed up to watch the very end of this, but the Athletics topped the Blue Jays 5-4 in 15 innings last night — or, early this morning, depending on your time zone — for their major-league leading 13th walk-off win of the season. Coco Crisp played the role of hero, delivering a sacrifice fly to score Jemile Weeks, who led off the 15th with a triple.

Dan Straily ended up getting a no-decision in his major league debut. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed just one run on five hits and a walk over six innings while striking out five. While he got away with a few pitches, he looked plenty good, especially with his changeup.

The A’s handed a 4-1 lead to closer Ryan Cook in this one, but he gave up a game-tying three-run homer to Jeff Mathis with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Yes, that Jeff Mathis. However, Jerry Blevins, the newly-acquired Pat Neshek, Sean Doolittle and Travis Blackley combined for six innings of shutout relief until Crisp’s game-winning sacrifice fly. Blackley, who was moved to the bullpen to make room for Straily, had three shutout frames and notched the win.

This was actually the A’s second 15-inning victory this week, as they defeated the Rays 4-3 on Monday night behind a sacrifice fly from Weeks. According to the Associated Press, the Athletics are the first team to play a pair of 15-inning games in a five-day span since the Dodgers in 2006.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.