The A's bats woke from the stupor of yesterday, and the A's pitching game through in a big way to even up the series against the Orioles.
Chris Bassitt is yet another gift from the Sharknado 2 trade, and he might be the best one. My favorite things about Bassitt are 1) He hits 95 consistently; 2) Because he hits 95+ he's not afraid to go in on the hands of hitters; 3) he barely walks anyone (today he wisely pitched Chris Davis carefully but ended with just two walks) and 4) he has a huge variance in speeds (we saw 96 mph on the fastball and 68 on a curve today). He had pitched well ever since his call up to replace Jesse Hahn, but he had nothing to show for it thanks to an anemic A's offense.
Tonight looked like it could go the same way, with the A's managing just one hit through the first four innings, and the Orioles nearly scoring, but for a nifty little diving catch by Coco Crisp. Crisp got a hit in the bottom of the third on a curious play, in which the Orioles made a major defensive shift with two strikes. The A's called the hit and run with Billy Burns on first, and Coco simply knocked it through the gap vacated by JJ Hardy.
The A's did not score, but they finally broke through in the 5th. Eric Sogard knocked a solid double on a line drive to right, and Billy Burns followed with a two out single up the middle to score Sogard. Adam Jones may have had a chance to nab Harry Potter at the plate, but his throw bounced off the back of the mound and up in the air. Burns took an extra base on the throw, but the one run is all the A's got. Nevertheless, Sogard's epic display of power would be a factor in the following inning.
Bassitt got the shutdown inning in the top of the 6th, and the A's offense got to work in the bottom half of the frame. Until then O's starter Miguel Gonzalez had been very solid, but he unraveled thanks to pure intimidation from the Keebler Elf.
Billy Butler started things off with a ground rule double over the head of Gerardo Parra in right. After an Ike Davis groundout, Brett Lawrie crushed a triple to the gap in center, which even Billy Butler could score on from second. 2-0 A's. Gonzalez left the game in favor of Chaz Roe. Roe came in and promptly struck out Mark Canha for the second out. And then, with a runner on third and two outs, Buck Showalter ordered Roe to intentionally walk Eric Sogard.
Sogard had exactly two intentional walks in his career to that point. Both were because he was batting 8th, ahead of the pitcher in an NL park (thanks Lawless Walrus for the research!). The third one was tonight, and it was because Buck was scurrrd. Sogard's double must have sent a message. Of course, you cannot make a move as stupid as intentionally walking Sogard and get away with it. Marcus Semien ensured that the Orioles would not escape unscathed, blasting a three-run homer and giving Bassitt the 5-0 cushion to ensure victory. Bassitt left after the 7th and the bullpen brought it home.
Baseball is weird. One night, the powerhouse O's offense looks amazing, their pitching looks fine, and the A's look terrible. The next night, they walk Eric Sogard, on purpose, and score no runs. Despite the offensive woes as of late, the A's are 3-2 since the trade deadline. Just keep giving us some watchable ballgames and we'll be happy.