Luis Barrera probably shouldn’t have been in the batter’s box in the ninth inning on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Angels closer Raisel Iglesias needed just eight pitches to retire Seth Brown and Sean Murphy, recording two quick outs against a pair of A’s power threats. But with his team trailing 3-1, Barrera took his first at-bat of the game anyway as Ramón Laureano’s double and Christian Bethancourt’s walk brought the winning run to the plate.
The 1-1 slider Iglesias threw Barrera wasn’t necessarily a strike, but it didn’t need to be. The left-handed hitting outfielder turned on the pitch and blasted it into the right field bleachers for a walk-off, three-run home run in a thrilling 4-3 comeback win for the A’s.
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The first home run of Barrera’s major league career couldn’t have come at a better time for a slumping A’s offense, which was held to two hits in a shutout loss on Friday night before recording just three hits over the first eight innings of Saturday’s game.
Aside from the A’s offensive struggles, there were other reasons Barrera wasn’t a promising choice in the ninth inning of Game 1 on Saturday.
Consider the fact the inexperienced outfielder was just 4-for-17 in his brief major league career entering Saturday’s game. Consider the fact the A’s had already designated Barrera for assignment this season, exposing him to the waiver wire after determining he wasn’t an ideal fit for an Oakland club in the midst of another rebuild. Consider the fact he didn’t enter the game until the A’s needed a pinch-runner for Jed Lowrie after the 38-year-old designated hitter got his team on the board with a two-strike single in the seventh.
Then consider that none of it mattered to Barrera, who was promptly doubled off of first base after misjudging a fly ball caught by Angels right fielder Jack Mayfield.
All Barrera wanted was a chance. All the A’s needed was a hero. However unlikely, Barrera fit the bill and the A’s stunned an Angels club that thought a victory was in hand when its closer, who signed a four-year, $58 million contract this offseason, stepped on the mound.