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By the score of 6-5, the Oakland Athletics have defeated the San Diego Padres, changing their record to 2-2-1 early on in this Spring Training.
Coming away with a win is an obvious indicator that there were a fair share of positives throughout the game, but the clear biggest positives made evident from this game continued to be the sustained high level performance of the team's offense as well as the strong demonstration of depth that the team has at its disposal. Hitters throughout the lineup were able to put up good, long at bats against Padres pitching to both earn walks as well as raise opposition pitch counts. The A's lineup may not be star studded, but it may be future-star studded, and for the time being there are above average players at all positions each and every inning. Once again, Spring Training statistics only mean so much, but it looks clear to me that most Athletics are having consistently strong at bats and smart approaches at the plate, which won't necessarily show up on a player's stat line.
There weren't all positives throughout this game, but the negatives that did persist aren't necessarily indicative of any sort of doom on the horizon. The big, glaring negative stemming from the team's performance today is the four errors in the right-most column of the A's box score. Three of the four errors were throwing errors, one by Billy Burns in center that sailed over the heads of all of his intended targets and two were from Renato Nunez, who definitely appeared to have a case of the yips on his throws today. First and foremost, with a little bit of instructor magic from Ron Washington, Marcus Semien's yips seemingly disappeared as the season went along, and it hopefully isn't unreasonable to believe that Nunez could work through his throwing issues as well. As a worst case scenario, Nunez is likely headed for a future role as a DH or first baseman, and it will be the ever-popular Matt Chapman making long throws from third base. The other error of the game was a dropped fly ball by Chris Coghlan that appeared to stem from miscommunication between him and the second baseman Joey Wendle, and these types of communication issues are usually (ideally?) worked out over the course of Spring Training.
The pitching for the Athletics was a bit of a mixed bag. A total of six Padres walked this afternoon and two more batters were hit by pitches. With the poor defense behind the pitching, it is clear that this was not an easy afternoon for A's pitchers, and the game likely would have had a much different result had the Padres not left 12 total batters on base (as opposed to Oakland's 4), but nevertheless the pitching was able to do just enough damage control and get just lucky enough to prevent the Padres from climbing all the way back into the game.
Chris Bassitt was the story early on for the A's, as he escaped a first-inning jam with runners on second and third following a walk to a left-handed hitting Corey Spangenberg and a single by Matt Kemp. Kemp advanced to second on a horrendous throw from Billy Burns, looking to throw it hard to third and airmailing all of his targets. However, Bassitt was able to get old friend Derek Norris out to escape the jam, and was able to relatively breeze through the second.
Lefty pitching specialist Marc Rzepczynski pitched a scoreless third, but had to dance around a double and a near-defensive miscue courtesy of Yonder Alonso. Ryan Dull followed suit with a scoreless fourth inning, though he had to navigate two more Oakland errors as well as a walk of his own. It was the fourth inning. the top half, when the Oakland A's offense finally broke through, having been held stagnant up to that point by a very effective James Shields andLuis Perdomo, as future-Brandon-Moss Andrew Lambo homered with a runner on base to put Oakland ahead, ultimately for good, 2-0.
The A's scored three more runs in the fifth in large part due to gameplay that the A's had been getting away with up to that point in the game, as the rally was sparked by both walks and defensive shortcomings on San Diego's side of the ball. At the halfway point of the game, the A's were solidly up by five runs despite not playing their best or prettiest baseball, and were starting to take their feet off the gas pedal and rotate in pitchers and hitters that are less likely to be of significant impact this upcoming season, or at the very least early on in the season. Off of Angel Castro, Patrick Schuster, and Ryan Doolittle the Padres put four runs on the board and were knocking on the A's door.
To take some of the air out of the Padres' sails, Josh-Donaldson-trade-redeemer Franklin Barreto put on a show both at the plate and in the field, as he crushed a solo home run deep to left field to start the seventh inning, and was able to start a spectacular double play that began after a ground ball clanked off of Chad Pinder's glove. While Lambo had been generated some buzz early due to his strong offensive performance of the day, all focus was on the phenom Barreto by game's end.
With the score 6-4, the Padres were able to tack one more run on in the bottom of the ninth on a solo home run off of Seth Frankoff, but every other batter of the inning struck out as Frankoff was able to get a Spring Training save under his belt and make this game history.
Player of the Game: Bassitt had a strong pitching performance over his two innings, and Andrew Lambo really knocked the cover off of the ball in each of his at bats, but the emotional part of me wants to give the supremely meaningful Player of the Game award to the one and only Franklin Barreto for his mammoth home run and his competent play at shortstop in the field.