'He went up there with fire in his eyes,' Melvin says of rookie's HR
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- The A's are making a habit of rallying for dramatic wins, and rookie Ryon Healy found himself at the center of yet another walk-off win Sunday night, driving a homer to lift the A's to a 4-3 win over the Rays.
Healy's homer capped a three-run rally that began when Jake Smolinski belted a two-run homer to left field two batters earlier, tying the game against Rays closer Alex Colome. The win came one day after Oakland delivered a 1-0 walk-off in the 13th inning Friday against the Rays, and marks their third such win in five games.
Healy, who was called up last July 15, scored the game-winning run Friday and was the hero Saturday.
"It was one of those feelings where you don't feel anything off the bat," Healy said. "You know it's a big yard. You look up and you're like, 'That's gone. I think it's gone. I hope it's gone.' Then it goes over and you're like 'Wow, it went over.' So it was a great feeling."
It was his second homer of the season. His first, a three-run, go-ahead homer against Toronto, was also his first career hit.
"He's not afraid of any situation he's been in," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He went up there with fire in his eyes."
The A's bailed out starter Kendall Graveman, who was in line for a loss despite tossing his first career complete game and giving up only three runs. He's now won six straight games and has a 3.25 ERA over his last 10 starts, continuing a resurgence this year.
They also bailed out an offense that had scored two runs in its previous 21 innings, and was in line to lose against a left-handed starter for the 11th time in 12 games. Colome had also converted his previous 21 save opportunities, one shy of a Rays record.
But Khris Davis opened the inning with a walk, and Smolinski came to the plate expecting a first-pitch fastball.
"I saw him the other day and he grooved one and I took it," Smolinski said. "And after that I saw his cutter/slider that was pretty nasty, so I told [hitting coach Darren Bush] I was going to be ready for that first-pitch heater if I got it again and I did."
Healy didn't read Colome as well -- at least not initially.
"I was willing to throw a lot of money down on the fact he wasn't going to throw me an 0-0 heater," Healy said. "He ended up throwing a cutter for a strike. And then when I was 0-1, I took my chance and pulled my head and my shoulder on a good cutter. So I was down, 0-2, and it was battle mode. …Fortunately I got the fastball on the 3-2 count and put a good swing on it."
The result was a scorched liner, a celebratory shaving cream pie to the face postgame, and a 6-3 A's record since the All-Star Break.
"It really didn't hit me until I rounded second and I saw [third base coach Ron Washington] going crazy at third base," Healy said.
"It was awesome to see the guys there and how excited they were. I saw the bullpen sprinting down so I sort of slowed my jog a little bit to enjoy it and let them get there. It was definitely a special feeling. One I haven't had a ton in my life, but you always enjoy it when it happens."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.