In what is undoubtably a preview of October, the A’s won the first game of their spring stint with a late inning victory over the Giants. An eighth inning rally put the green and gold over the top as Adam Rosales worked a bases loaded walk to give the A’s a 5-4 lead and the win, in what was an overall team-wide effort against their longtime rivals.
Two of the five projected starters in the A’s rotation got the nod to pitch today, as the rippling effect from Sonny Gray dropping out of the World Baseball Classic continued into today’s game. Kendall Graveman took the mound first for the A’s, and pitched a single scoreless inning. Graveman was touched up, just a bit, however, despite limiting the damage, as he was forced to navigate around a two out walk to Buster Posey and a two out double to Hunter Pence to place runners on second and third base before getting Brandon Belt looking on a nasty third strike call to escape trouble.
Relieving Graveman in the second inning was Sean Manaea, the "Throwin’ Samoan" who is looking to build on his (mostly) successful first season in the show. In his two scoreless innings of work, Manaea looked incredibly impressive. While primarily showcasing the fastball and changeup that made him successful in the big leagues last year, Manaea’s slider appeared to show some life and he, along with Bob Melvin, was very happy with the strides forward he made with the pitch this offseason. If Manaea continues to take steps forward with his slider, which had long been heralded as the pitch that would bring him longtime success in the minor leagues, he could potentially have three plus pitches and become a force to be reckoned with for years and years to come in the majors. However in today’s game it was Manaea’s changeup that continued to be the primary out pitch for the lefty, as Manaea managed to net two K’s, one to Buster Posey and one to Kelby Tomlinson, with his deceptive changeup.
Amongst the rest of the pitchers, prospect Heath Fillmyer pitched a scoreless inning while allowing just one hit, but pitchers Zach Neal and Trey Cochran-Gill were both roughed up and tagged for four runs combined. Cochran-Gill, in particular, looked rather raw in his first spring appearance, as he allowed three runners to score while only retiring one batter.
On the other side of the ball, Matt Joyce continued to do Matt Joyce things while also continuing his quest to win over the hearts and minds of fans skeptical of the primary Josh Reddick replacement. Not only did Joyce continue to showcase the pitch recognition and selection that helped to turn him into the hitter he was last season, he also crushed his second home run of the spring in the first inning to give the A’s an early lead over the Giants and old-friend Jeff Samardzija.
For the rest of the A’s offense, patience and timely hitting were the primary forces driving it. Following the first inning blast from Joyce, Khris Davis worked a walk and eventually came around to score on a Stephen Vogt single. In the second inning, call-up hopeful Jaff Decker worked a walk and, following a Rajai Davis single, came around to score on a long double by Ryon Healy.
The Giants had managed to scratch and claw their way back into the game by the eighth inning, but then, on a rally started by a Franklin Barreto walk followed by a Yairo Munoz single and a Josh Rodriguez walk, Adam Rosales strode to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded and managed to work a walk for himself, the A’s sixth of the day, pushing Barreto across the plate to score and giving the A’s a lead that they would not relinquish. Considering how lacking the A’s were in discipline and patience last season, and how inconsistent the A’s offense was game in and game out as a result, seeing the A’s working their walks and not hacking away at mediocre offerings is a breath of fresh air and a good omen for the upcoming season.
Tomorrow at noon the A’s are hosting the Indians at Hohokam.
Today, the A’s defeated the Giants 5-4.