Oakland needed a win today. Facing a team that is in the dark of the NL Central cellar, and we aren't talking wine cellar, the Reds STILL entered the day with a record (24-38) worst than the Athletics (25-36)—even after beating the A's two days in a row. Kendall Graveman, 2-6 with a 5.49 ERA in 11 games, took on John Lamb, 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA and coming off a no-decision in Tuesday's last start where he gave up 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks in 7 and 1/3 innings. So the Athletics were due for a win, and win they did! Always ahead the entire game, the A's made it look easy today.
Life in the A's bats showed itself in the top of the second in a way that we have not seen in awhile. Leading off was Billy Butler who tucked a nice little grounder up the right side between first and second for a base hit. Semien then followed with a two-run homer (#12 on the season) to put the A's on the board. Phegley followed by making his own jaunt to first on a base hit. But wait, Smolinski (maybe it's names that begin with S's today) takes it deep to centerfield to mirror Semien's two run homer. Smolinski's second of the year. 4-0 Athletics. First crooked number since Tuesday in the second inning. Nice, boys!
Bottom of the second, Graveman gives up his first run. Ramon Cabrera with a 2 out RBI double. Luckily for Graveman, Pitcher John Lamb with an .097 batting average was up, and down, quickly on a strikeout to avoid another earned run.
In the bottom of the 3rd the Reds make a bit of noise with Zack Cozart singles. But the Athletics quickly silence the Cinci fans with a Votto strikeout followed by a Phegley short hopper that Semien fielded to apply the tag on the running Cozart. Jay Bruce then went down looking to end the inning.
The Reds again make noise in the 4th with Eugenio Suarez boarding the base-path on a walk. Selsky goes down as the second out of the inning with a strikeout on a Graveman sinker. Melvin paid a visit to the mound to add speculation to the mix about whether Graveman was facing dehydration or some difficulty caused by the 3-1 putout in the first out of the inning. Stating he's fine, Graveman faces Cabrera who gets his second hit of the game to put runners on first and third with two outs. Waldrop pinch hits for Lamb who leaves the game after 4 innings having given up 4 runs on 7 hits. Graveman leaves one outside to walk Waldrop, but with bases loaded, a grounder to Lowrie ends the inning on his throw to first. Phew.
Josh Smith, replacing Lamb, starts the 5th inning and gets Lowrie to fly out to center field. Valencia follows with a strikeout having chased a breaking ball outside as raindrops begin to fall as Khris Davis becomes Smith's second strikeout victim of the inning. Offensively the Reds begin the bottom of the 5th with a shift-beating single up the right side which leads to Graveman's exits and Fernando Rodriguez takes over the rubber. With an inherited runner on first, Rodriguez gets Brandon Phillips to fly out to center field. Jay Bruce, who struckout in his previous at-bat, helps the A's again by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play. Still 4-1 Athletics heading into the 6th.
Other than Butler going 3-3 as he led of the 6th, all was quiet with both sets of bats in the 6th and 7th until Valencia, in the top of the 8th, hit is 10th home run of the season to bring the score to 5-1 Athletics. Third Athletics' homerun of the day against A.J. Morris. After a Khris Davis strikeout, Alonso and Semien single with Phegley who hits a sacrifice fly to center for an Alonso advancement to third. Two outs with runners on the corners and Smolinski in the box but they are left stranded as Jake grounds to third and is thrown out.
Axford who threw well in the 7th is replaced by Sean Doolittle who begins the bottom of the 8th facing Joey Votto 2-3 on the day. On a 96 mile an hour fastball, Doolittle gives Votto his second strikeout of the game. Brandon Phillips, batting in the third slot and at the heart of the order; Phillips goes down on a 1-3 ground out after facing 5 fastballs registering 96, 97, 97, 97, and 97. The heat seems to agree with Doo. Two outs, Jay Bruce who is 0-3 on the day, enters the box and strikes out on a high fastball to end the 8th. Doolittle made it look effortless.
Coco Crisp gets his first hit of the day in the top of the 9th, sending a slow roller up the middle and into center field. Lowrie, 2 for 4 on the day with a .299 batting average, belts a single to shallow center much to the surprise of Lowrie who shook his head and dropped his bat thinking he flew out. Surprise, Jed. Valencia follows by striking out swinging who is followed by Khris Davis who gets an RBI single sending Coco across the plate to increase the lead to 6-1 on a game day total of 15 hits. Yonder Alonso grounds out to send the green and gold to the bottom of the 9th and Ryan Madson on the mound after a week of rest.
The Reds go quietly in the 9th with Adam Duvall striking out, and Eugenio Suarez chasing two changeups that dropped out of the zone. Pinch hitter Ivan DeJesus replaces JC Ramirez, and DeJesus works Madson by fouling off 4 and goes down after 9 pitches in a Lowrie to Alonso final out to complete the 5-1 win by the Athletics.