Gault's Grand Slam leads A's to Upset Win Over Mariners
Written by: Bill Martin
Saturday, May 20, 2006
At the end of a grueling week where the shorthanded A's played 3 games in 4 days, the last thing the A's wanted to see was the first place Seattle Mariners. But A's clean up hitter Kevin Gault smacked a grand slam and the visiting A's played spirited ball as they defeated to top ranked Mariners 5-3 in 8-year old baseball Saturday.
The game began as a pitchers' duel, as neither team scored in the first two innings. A's pitcher Ryan Simalchik threw 2 more scoreless innings, raising his total to 14 scoreless innings out of 16, and lowering his ERA to a paltry 0.62 for the season. Ryan was helped by solid defense in centerfield by converted second baseman Billy Martin, who kept several balls from going into the gap for extra bases. Stephen Arfuso, getting his first start at second base, ran the infield and kept the team in the game. Rory McIntyre, who has become an integral part of the team by catching for Simalchik and closer Matt Canuso, kept Simalchik on track in the first two frames.
In the third, the bats heated up for bboth teams. A's third baseman Mark Lemmerman lead off with a good at bat, fouling off several pitches until he drew a walk. Simalchik followed with an infield hit and Griffen Foster walked to load the bases. With two outs, and an 0-2 pitch, Kevin Gault was challenged with a high heater, and Gault responded with a long drive down the right field line over the rightfielder's head that skidded all the way to the fence. Lemmerman and Simalchik scored easily, and Foster motored home all the way from first. As the ball was being relayed home, Gault made a daring dash to the plate, scoring for the first grand slam of his storied career. the pumped up Gault then was given the ball on the mound for the bottom of the third, and he pitched well. With the help of catcher Mark Beachy, who framed every pitch, Gault allowed only 2 runs on 2 hits, as the A's had a surprising lead 4-2 after three.
Coach Martin decided to go to his close early, and in came Matt Canuso in the fourth. Although he was troubled by a few errors from his fielders, Canuso bore down and struck out the last two batters, giving up only 1 run in the inning.
With a 4-3 lead entering the fifth, the A's needed some insurance. They again turned to Simalchik and Gault. Ryan reached first on a sharply hit grounder to third, and with two out, up stepped Kevin Gault. Kevin stroked a high drive over the right fielder's head for a double and with two outs, Ryan turn jets and dart home, scoring from first base.
In the bottom of the fifth, Canuso returned to the mound. Matt calmly struck out the first two batters, and with the game still on the line, fired a 3-2 pitch on the outside corner to end this scintillating game.
A's owner Rob Simalchik praised his team after the game: "Kevin had the best game of the year, with 5 RBIs and a solid outing on the mound. But our pitching, including Ryan and Matt, also showed they rank up their with the best in the league. But I was really happy with the guys at the plate. They took their cuts and made things happen today."
The A's play Russo Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.
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