OAKLAND -- Michael Kohn came within one strike of escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night, the Angels reliever striking out Daric Barton with his team employing a five-man infield and getting ahead of Josh Donaldson with two strikes.
But Kohn, on his 35th pitch of the inning, left an 0-and-2 fastball up, and Josh Donaldson lined it into center field for a run-scoring single to give the Oakland Athletics a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Angels at the Oakland Coliseum.
“Any time you get a hitter 0 and 2, it’s the time to put him away -- I didn’t do my job there,” Kohn said. “I didn’t elevate the pitch high enough. I have to get it higher than his chest. I left it belly-button middle, and he put a good swing on it.”
The loss, only the Angels’ seventh in their last 25 games, put a damper on another encouraging performance by Garrett Richards, who allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings and is now 5-2 with a 2.90 earned-run average in 11 starts since replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation in late July.
Richards, who has solidified a rotation spot for next season, mixed a 94-mph fastball with a sharp-breaking slider and a bigger-breaking curve to strike out six and escape two-on, two-out jams in the fourth and fifth innings and a runner-on-second, no-out jam in the sixth.
“He’s maturing,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of the 25-year-old right-hander. “He’s always been tough and has gone after guys, but the confidence keeps building as you have success. He understands that if he walks a guy or they find a hole, he can still make pitches, minimize damage and get out of a jam.”
Richards, who twice bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation this season, said he is learning to sharpen his focus in tense spots.
“I’m just worrying about the next pitch, trying to execute pitches,” Richards said. “I don’t get discouraged when guys get on base. I believe in myself and know that I can work through it. I feel like I’ve made some major strides this year in a positive way. I’m getting experience and feel good about where I’m at right now.”