One imagines the A’s would have been perfectly happy with the wild card a few weeks ago. Now they’re one game away from winning the AL West.
Travis Blackley allowed one run and three hits in six innings and the bullpen came through one more time Tuesday as the A’s topped the Rangers 3-1 to move into a tie for first place in the AL West. They were as many as 13 games behind Texas earlier this year.
The Rangers got their only run on a Josh Hamilton double in the third. Derek Norris came back with what was supposed to be a game-tying single in the fifth, but right fielder Nelson Cruz bobbled it, allowing Brandon Moss to score the go-ahead run. Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer in the sixth to conclude the scoring for the night.
Grant Balfour, working on a fourth straight day for the first time this year, retired Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz in a perfect ninth for his 24th save of the year.
Blackley excelled tonight just five days after giving up five runs in an inning in a start versus the Rangers. The A’s have won five straight after losing that game. Tonight’s appearance may well have been the of the year for Blackley, as the team doesn’t figure to carry him as a reliever in the postseason.
Wednesday’s finale will feature Ryan Dempster and A.J. Griffin as the starters. It’ll be Dempster’s first start against the A’s as a member of the Rangers. He’s 7-3 with a 4.64 ERA in 11 starts since coming over from the Cubs. Griffin is 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 starts for Oakland. He pitched six scoreless innings in his one outing versus Texas this year.
It’s winner-take-all tonight. The Brewers are out for their first National League pennant in franchise history, while the Dodgers will look to secure back-to-back pennant wins for the first time since 1977-78. Taking the mound: Right-handers Jhoulys Chacín and Walker Buehler, both of whom were last seen in Game 3 of the NLCS. Chacín fired 5 1/3 shutout innings of three-hit, six-strikeout ball to secure his second win of the 2018 postseason, while Buehler took his first loss after allowing four runs and striking out eight over seven innings.
Here are the lineups for Game 7:
1. Joc Pederson (L) LF
2. Max Muncy (L) 1B
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Walker Buehler (R) P
David Freese will sit out of the Dodgers’ series finale, though he could be brought in later to pinch-hit. In his place, Max Muncy will shift from second to first base, with Chris Taylor covering second and Joc Pederson slotting into the left field corner and batting leadoff. Taylor and Puig have also swapped places in the batting order, with Puig getting bumped up to the no. 6 spot for Saturday’s game.
1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Christian Yelich (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 2B
5. Jesús Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
7. Erik Kratz (R) C
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Jhoulys Chacín (R) P
Not surprisingly, there are no changes on the Brewers’ end here. They’ll try to replicate yesterday’s 7-2 stunner as they face off against Walker Buehler for a World Series berth.
Game time is scheduled for 8:09 PM EDT at Miller Park.