OAKLAND, Calif. – Maybe a game-winning, broken-bat hit against baseball’s career saves leader in the 18th inning will get Nate Freiman in a nice groove again.
Freiman, the former TinCaps star, singled home the winning run against Mariano Rivera, lifting the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday for a three-game sweep.
It was his deal, Freiman said of the cut fastball he saw. That one he always throws.
As a day game after a night game turned into a night game after a day game, John Jaso singled off Preston Claiborne (0-1) to start the decisive rally and went to third on Seth Smith’s soft single to shallow left field against Rivera.
Rivera issued only the 39th intentional walk of his 19-year career to Jed Lowrie before Freiman ended the 5-hour, 35-minute game on New York’s getaway day to Anaheim for a weekend series with the Angels.
A little broken-bat blooper over the third baseman, and the other one the same place, Rivera said. You can’t do anything about it.
Freiman knew he had it, raising his right arm in triumph.
I knew that was not getting to the left fielder. I knew it was falling, he said.
Moments later, Freiman received a celebratory whipped cream pie in the face following his first career game-ending hit – and Oakland’s fifth of 2013 after compiling a major league-best 14 walk-off wins last year. He had entered the game in the top of the 16th.
The AL West-leading A’s (41-27) won their 11th in a row at home, 21st in 26 overall, and moved a season-best 14 games above .500 to extend their best start since 1990. They became the first American League team to play two 18-inning games in one season since Oakland and the Washington Senators did so in 1971.
Freiman’s wife, LPGA golfer Amanda Blumenherst, a former Fort Wayne resident, quickly congratulated her husband on Twitter: Ahhh!! Nate just ended the 18 inning game! Bases loaded, single!! Pie in the face! Athletics win!
Neither A’ starter Jarrod Parker nor New York counterpart Hiroki Kuroda got a decision after a nice pitchers’ duel hours before the game ended.
Parker, the former Norwell star, riding a three-start winning streak, was helped by a pair of double plays.