For the first time this season, the Sixers won a game when trailing after eight innings, and did it in a fashion that made it look like they’d been doing it all year.
Trailing 5-4 entering the bottom of the ninth on Thursday against first-place Lancaster, Tommy Giles led off with a bloop single to left against Cody McAllister (3-1), his third hit of the game. Matt Berezay was unable to bunt him over, but hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left for his ninth home run, a game-winner and his first homer since July 19.
The win not only improved the Sixers to 1-50 this season when trailing after eight (Bakersfield is the only team still winless in those games), but moved them into first place, a half game ahead of Lancaster and a game ahead of the Quakes. The Sixers are 22-18 in the second half.
The Sixers entered the game with the second-most runs scored in the league in the eighth inning (77) and most in the ninth (74), but those ninth-inning runs had never been in come-from-behind fashion — they’d been either snapping a tie, building on a lead, or on a comeback that fell short. Manager John Valentin was asked recently if it would be a boost to the team to get a win when trailing after eight innings.
He said it would give the team some confidence, knowing they had come back in the ninth inning before. Now he’s got that win, so we’ll see if that leads to more ninth-inning comebacks during the season’s final month.