After taking over from a struggling Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics relievers Fernando Abad, Dan Otero, and Kevin Whelan combined to retire San Francisco's final 16 batters to complete a 6-4 victory. Josh Phegley and Billy Butler each contributed run-scoring doubles, but Eric Sogard led tonight's A's in runs batted in with three on a sacrifice fly and a two-run triple.
Tim Lincecum started tonight's affair from Scottsdale Stadium and ran into trouble early. In the second, after walking Ike Davis, Josh Phegley smacked a solid double to the left field alley to score Davis. After Mark Canha advanced Phegley to third on a single of his own, Eric Sogard flew out to left to score Phegley and take a 2-0 lead.
Opposing Lincecum was Jesse Chavez, just returned from the birth of his third daughter, Dannie, joining sisters Criste and Stevee, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee. After an easy first, Chavez began to walk a tightrope in the second. After loading the bases with nobody out in the second on two hits and a walk, the Giants scored only one run on Hector Sanchez's sacrifice fly. The A's still led 2-1 after two.
Lincecum gave up another pair of runs in the third after he dug himself a deep hole with his own fielding. With Craig Gentry on, Ben Zobrist hit a ground ball to Lincecum. Big Time Timmy Jim hesitated and then threw the ball into center field, allowing Zobrist and Gentry to reach second and third with nobody out. Billy Butler then slapped a double just over the reach of Norichika Aoki in left field to give the A's a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Chavez began the inning by conceding a triple to Nori Aoki. Chavez did another escapist routine, retiring Panik, Pagan, and Posey to strand Aoki at third base.
After the third, Lincecum settled in. Having already struck out four Athletics in his first turbulent three innings, Lincecum struck out three more to finish the night with seven strikeouts in five innings.
Jesse Chavez was not so fortunate, though he was dinged by his defense in the fourth. With Brandon Belt aboard, Chavez got Casey McGehee to ground to Brett Lawrie at third base. Lawrie would have easily retired McGehee if another first baseman with a better stretch caught his ball on the fly. Instead, Billy Butler tried and failed to take Lawrie's throw on an awkward bounce.
Brandon Crawford singled to score Belt, Hector Sanchez singled to score McGehee, and Crawford scored on Gregor Blanco's 4-6-3 double play, tying the game at four apiece. After walking Nori Aoki, Bob Melvin came out with his hook, putting in Fernando Abad.
And then all was glorious on the Oakland mound.
Abad retired Joe Panik, and then retired three more in the fifth.
Eric Sogard hit his two-run triple in the sixth, getting all of a Curtis Partch breaking ball to send it to the right field wall:
Just to bury the rest of Oakland's lineup in a middle paragraph, the A's substitutes subsequently went nine up and nine down for the final three innings. 80-grade name J.P. Sportman came in but only flew out to right field tonight, a far cry from the double and home run he pulled off in games earlier this week.
@susanslusser keep us Schenectady, NY natives (JPs hometown) updated with the " #SportmanTracker " hashtag. Keep the tradition alive.— Dom (@DomCaputo21) March 27, 2015
Such glorious pitching
Dan Otero entered the game in the sixth inning. It seemed he was on the mound for but a flash, but he actually pitched three innings, retiring all nine batters (all of them Giants starters), and was done in 24 pitches.
Melvin: "We finally got Otero’s pitch count up to like 24. It took three innings to do it. But, it’s one way to do it."— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 27, 2015
To close it up was Kevin Whelan, assigned to minor league camp last weekend. It was just as easy for him to retire Joaquin Arias, Ehire Adrianza, and Andrew Susac to earn the save and wrap up Oakland's 6-4 win.
Friday, the A's return to a daytime schedule with the Texas Rangers visiting the A's at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa at 1:05 PM. Texas will start Anthony Ranaudo against Jesse Hahn. No television for the game, but it will be broadcast with Donny Baarns on the microphone at athletics.com.