Today’s game was a long and sloppy affair, lasting just shy of 4 hours and featuring 4 total errors (3 by the A’s). Fortunately, Oakland was able to mount a comeback after a slow start, scoring 8 runs in the 6th and 7th and keeping the lead to edge out the Cubs by a score of 9-8. That’s 7 wins in a row, counting split squad!
Raul Alcantara Has Iffy Outing
Raul Alcantara took the mound for the Athletics with a 60-pitch limit to take on the Cubs’ A-lineup. While Alcantara is extremely likely to make the major league roster in some capacity, he is fighting in Spring Training to prove that he is a viable fifth starter rather than just the swingman out of the bullpen. His start today did not particularly help his case. Alcantara showed decent control, but his pitches didn’t seem to fool hitters. There was a lot of loud contact and balls hit to/just shy of the warning track, and Cubs batters frequently drew deep counts before Alcantara could get outs.
Alcantara gave up a leadoff walk to Schwarber, who made it to second on a botched pickoff attempt. Fortunately, he then made a baserunning error and got thrown out at third by a quick-thinking Semien.
Canha botched two catches quite badly in the second inning, blinded by the sun both times. The second actually could/should have been worse, as a ground rule double from ball bouncing past him and over the fence onto the Grassy Knoll benefited the A’s. The runner had to stop at third on what otherwise would have been a sure run and Alcantara ultimately escaped the inning unscathed.
Things unraveled quickly for Alcantara in the 3rd inning. Kris Bryant hit a two-run home run, and Alcantara ultimately gave up three hits in the inning before being pulled at 58 pitches. Ross Detwiler came in for the final (loud) out. The A’s would go on to recover one of the runs in the bottom of the inning, with Canha/Rajai Davis walks, a double advance on a passed ball, and a sac fly from Lowrie. 2-1 Cubs.
A’s Give Up a Bunch of Runs
The 4th inning did not help Ross Detwiler’s case for making the team, though his defense did him no favors. Detwiler gave up a walk and a single to put two on. Canha actually made a pretty decent catch but Zobrist knocked in a run and then advanced to second on a mispositioning by the A’s on the throw back to the infield. This proved consequential as Rizzo knocked a double to make it 5-1 Cubs. Detwiler gave up another walk before Zach Neal came in for the final out.
In the 5th, Santiago Casilla came in to pitch for the A’s and similarly had a poor outing. Schwarber knocked a ball off the center field to tag Casilla for two runs and make it 7-1.
The 6th inning featured Liam Hendriks pitching. Alejandro de Aza made a great throw from right center field to catch Ian Happ trying to go from first to third. On the next batter, though, Adam Rosales made a combo fielding-throwing twofer error.
A’s Score a Bunch of Runs
The A’s mounted a massive comeback starting in the 6th. It started with an extremely predictable event: Yonder Alonso absolutely blasting a 3-run home run out of the DH slot. 4-7. Franklin Barreto followed up with an opposite field triple (!) to continue his Spring Training hot streak. Alejandro de Aza was able to grind out an RBI groundout after a long at-bat to make it 5-7 Oakland.
Frankie Montas came in for the 7th and had some trouble. He got double stolen on when he couldn’t decide which base to throw to, then he bounced a ball in the dirt on a strikeout, with the ball bouncing up the third base line and allowing a runner to score and the batter to make it to first safely. 8-5 Cubs.
Fortunately, the A’s had more runs left in the tank. Adam Rosales walked (or rather, sprinted), Sean Murphy hit flare single (with another assist from the sun), and Chris Parmelee singled to load the bases for Matt Chapman with nobody out. Unfortunately he didn’t hit the grand slam we were all salivating for, but he did take a walk to put the score at 6-8. Matt Olson took a 4-pitch walk, 7-8. Then Yairo Munoz hit a single to tie the game at 8 before the Cubs finally made a pitching change. Michael Wagner came in for Chicago to face off against Franklin Barreto, who drilled a ball to left center that would have cleared the bases but for an incredible diving catch but Cubs center fielder Jacob Hannemann. It was still enough to bring the runner home from third and put the A’s on top, 9-8. Unfotunately that was all the A’s would get, but it was also all they would need.
Frankie Montas stayed in for the 8th. With the help of a 6-4-3 double play, Rosales to Barreto to Olson, Montas had a much cleaner, faster inning.
Bobby Wahl gave up two consecutive walks to open up the 9th to continue his shaky Spring Training, but ultimately was able to escape the inning and the game with the win.
It was not a clean game, but that is also not surprising for Spring Training. A’s pitchers almost uniformly struggled and the defense behind them made multiple errors, but the bats came through yet again to continue Oakland’s Spring Training dominance. The young guys are coming through big and that’s really exciting, y’all.