OAKLAND, CALIF. – With a crack of the bat, it was obvious this ball was a goner as Hideki Matsui gave the Oakland Athletics an ecstatic 5-4, 10th-inning walk-off victory over the Texas Rangers in Monday’s afternoon game.
The designated hitter connected off reliever Darren Oliver for a line drive over the right field wall. It was Matsui’s first homer, his third of the season, since April 13.
“I was able to get that hit in a perfect situation and it turned out to be a walkoff, so I am extremely happy,” said Matsui, who launched a first-pitch fastball off the left-hander.
“I’ve faced him (Oliver) a lot in the past, so I had an image of what kind of stuff he’s going to throw at me. I was looking for a fastball over the middle of the plate.”
Josh Willingham had a game-tying long ball in the eighth before the game went into extra innings with a thinning crowd of 9,193 fans in attendance for the matinee showing.
Oakland escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th before Matsui’s heroics sent his jubilant teammates out to swarm him at home plate.
“The most important thing is we got the win. I hope that my performance today could brighten up some of the people affected by the earthquake back in Japan. It makes me happy if this lifted their spirits,” he said.
A’s manager Bob Geren was thrilled by the homer, which put Matsui just four shy of 500 career home runs in the majors and Japan. It also moved the team to a 15-14 record on the season within one game of first place in the AL West.
“I’ve never seen this group that animated and excited after a win. Guys were just jumping high. I hope they didn’t hit their head on the dugout,” Geren joked. “That ball came off the bat and it was loud.”
Red Sox 9, Angels 5
In Boston, Dustin Pedroia fouled off nine pitches in a 13-pitch at-bat against previously unbeaten Jered Weaver before lining a go-ahead, two-run single that helped the Red Sox beat Los Angeles.
Weaver (6-1) scratched Sunday due to a stomach virus, gave up three runs, six hits, struck out six and walked one over six innings. He failed to become the first pitcher since 1891 to go 7-0 by May 2 or sooner. Sadie McMahon of the Baltimore Orioles from the American Association was the last to open 7-0 by the second day of May.
Yankees 5, Tigers 3
In Detroit, Nick Swisher hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Jose Valverde and New York beat the Tigers, handing the hosts their seventh straight defeat.
Detroit rallied from a 3-0 deficit, tying it in the seventh on Alex Avila’s second solo home run of the night, but the Yankees broke through in their last at-bat against Valverde (2-1).
With runners on first and second and one out, Swisher singled up the middle and Mark Teixeira scored from second with a slide. Alex Rodriguez added another run when he scored from third on a passed ball by Avila.
Joba Chamberlain (2-0) got the win by pitching a scoreless eighth, and Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his 11th save.
White Sox 6, Orioles 2
In Chicago, Paul Konerko homered twice and Mark Buehrle pitched 6? scoreless innings for his 150th career victory to lead the White Sox to a win over Baltimore.
Konerko hit a two-run home run and a solo shot for Chicago, which ended a five-game skid with its fourth win in 19 games.