Last night’s win hinged on a series of late-game outcomes. The Giants don’t get that extra run in the seventh, are the A’s batters quite as patient as they are in the ninth inning? In a one-run game. The temptation to swing for the fences to tie it has to be greater than the situation in which they found themselves.
If that happens, Smith either definitely blows the save or manages to navigate the inning with just his fastball, but staying outside of the zone and using their aggressiveness against them.
The eighth inning more or less featured the a swing-to-get closer mentality, with Pinder and Piscotty going down on a combined eight pitches. Robbie Grossman followed those up with a six-pitch at bat. In the ninth, Dustin Garneau jumped on the first pitch, so that pretty much demolishes my perception of what happened.
However, Khris Davis didn’t panic when he got down 0-2 and, in fact, he more or less took two pitches to get to that 0-2 count anyway after Garneau got on base after one pitch. But after Garneau, every A’s batter except for Mark Canha took at least one called strike. Seems pretty clear the intention was to use Will Smith’s one-pitch repertoire against him, while also trying to maximize the number of pitches they saw to get to that one mistake that might break the game open for them.
That didn’t happen this time, but it’s very cool how baseball can turn on one play and then turn on another play that happened innings before it.