If this game as a whole played out like one of those wooden roller-coasters in the sultry summer night, no one was more of a microcosm of that ride than Marcus Semien. By all accounts, Semien had a fantastic night; garnering three hits while making sparkling plays at shortstop (and still, inexplicably batting eighth behind Yonder Alonso and Billy Butler, but that's a losing-game rant), but much like the A's, who were so terrific for parts of tonight, had some downright head-shaking plays. On the same night where he made an outstanding play at short, throwing a runner out from shallow left field, he missed the easy one-hop right at him on the very next play. Similarly, he timed a leap perfectly, robbing Trout of a late-inning hit while looking like a SportsCenter commercial, while in the very next inning, took a turn around first after his base hit put runners at first and third and was summarily picked off for the second out. Not even mad; Semien is clearly a net positive; an unexpected bright light in a so-far dark season.
Because of a really terrible (or awesome, if you're an A's fan) 0-2 pitch to Khris Davis, which he did not miss, assuming the rock pile out in center was where he was aiming, the subsequent three-run cushion rendered all of this discussion mute. It's a win, and I'll take any of those in 2016, no matter how they are earned, how well the A's played, or really anything else. And there was much good; in addition to Semien's three hits, Vogt had three of his own, including a first inning home run, and Lowrie and Davis racked up two each, helping the A's to a sorely-needed 14-hit night.
This game had all the markings of a classic 2016 gem; the A's basically started tonight with the play that sums up the season so far, and as is par for the course for this team, is nowhere to be found in the MLB video archive from tonight's game; probably because Bob Melvin paid MLB to remove the play so there is no video evidence of what happened to Eric Surkamp. Since I haven't yet found the play to embed (hint), I will do my best to transcribe it. Pretend we're back in the olden days of baseball radio, when my colorful descriptions are the only way you could feel like you saw the game. Just to set the stage, Vogt's home run gave the A's a short-lived 1-0 lead in the first, before the lead was erased by a 2-run home run by Pujols.
Long ago and far away, way back in the second inning, the Angels opened with a single, and with one out, another single put runners on first and third. In a very un-Surkamp-like move, he struck out the next batter for the second out, and had the world's best chance to escape from the inning with no further damage as he induced Mike Trout to ground out softly right back to the mound. Sadly, Surkamp's fielding does not appear to be much better than his pitching; he had simply hours to set his feet and throw to first, and instead of making a good throw to first--hell--making a throw to first, he somehow softly underhanded the ball straight into in the dirt towards Muncy, who understandably, was caught off guard and couldn't pick the ball. We've all been there; you're expecting the ball to be thrown to you, not softly tossed in your general direction. Surkamp covered his month as he yelled nice things into his glove and Melvin turned himself into a meme by burying his head in his hands. Either way, the Angels took the 3-1 lead.
But the A's weren't done yet; showing a surprisingly amount of pluck amidst general incompetence in the third inning; they turned what should have been a 3-4 run inning into a single score, but they did score. Back-to-back singles by Semien, Muncy and Burns closed the gap to 3-2, and they should have had more, but a double-play by Lowrie ended the threat.
The Angels got the run back in the bottom of the fourth, as Surkamp exited the game with runners at first and second and two outs. Granted, he only put one of them on base, but Melvin tried to keep the game close. Unfortunately, Fernando Rodriguez did not have the same idea; he gave up a run-scoring single to increase the Angels' lead to 4-2.
The A's continued to be plucky, and they were playing better; they started the fifth with a walk to Muncy and a double from Semien to put runners on second and third, setting up the tie. Muncy grounded out for the third run and Burns hit a sac fly for the fourth, tying the game at 4. A parade of relievers; Rodriguez for another inning, Dull and Axford kept the Angels off the board while the A's tried to take the lead.
It took until the eighth inning, but after a Vogt single and a Valencia double put runners on second and third, Khris Davis racked up an 0-2 count with two foul balls, but he was served a fastball in his wheelhouse. Needless to say, the A's took a 7-4 lead. Despite theatrics by Madson in the ninth inning, bringing up the tying run, the save was recorded, the win counts for the A's, and the series is officially split with two to play. We get to see Dillon Overton tomorrow, I'll be reporting live from the ballpark, and this is a great start to the weekend.
LET'S GO OAK-LAND!