In the third and final spring matchup between the A’s and Indians, the Indians emerged victorious, holding off a long, drawn out attempt at a comeback, as Cleveland "wins" the preseason series two games to one.
The A’s offense has been surprisingly effective thus far in spring training, a potentially meaningless happenstance but an exciting prospect nevertheless. And once again, today, the A’s managed to flex their muscles to put quick runs on the board, largely due to some exciting performances from guys who figure to be a big part of the future of this team. Franklin Barreto, consensual top prospect of the A’s, got the start at second base in today’s game, the position he is most likely to play longterm in his sure-to-be-illustrious career, and continued his blazing hot spring training performance with an opposite field blast to right field in the top of the first inning to give the A’s an early lead. While Barreto has been seemingly impossible to keep off of the base-paths this spring, most of his hits have been going for singles, but as time has gone along we’ve been able to witness his heralded power more and more. While Barreto was more than likely bound to join up with the A’s this year no matter what, his spring performance is most assuredly solidifying that notion to an exponential degree, and the question surrounding his arrival is "when?" not "if." Get excited, the future face of the A’s is pounding at the door.
Adam Rosales, in his age-33 campaign, finally enjoyed a season resembling a breakout and is looking to really take off in his latest stint with the A’s, hit a homerun in the second inning to double the A’s run total. However, the biggest blow for the A’s offense occurred in the fifth inning, with Ryon Healy at the dish. Not to place undue pressure on the phenom Healy, but it is probably fair to state that, if the A’s offense is going to make any impact this season, it is entirely dependent on Healy, at the very least, maintaining his performance from his rookie year. This spring, Healy has been putting worries of a sophomore slump to rest by thumping baseballs left and right with authority, and in the fifth, after working a full count, hit a screaming line drive that carried over the left field fence for a two run home run, bringing the A’s total up to four.
While the A’s would tack on a fifth run on a definitely-real-athlete J.P. Sportman single to left that scored Bruce Maxwell, who had doubled before him, it wouldn’t be enough in today’s ballgame. Andrew Triggs, whose performance is likely amongst the most closely monitored by the A’s front office and dugout out of any of his teammates this spring, did not have his best game. Taking the mound following Barreto’s impressive home run, Triggs walked Yan Gomes to lead off the bottom of the first and immediately followed that up by coughing up a run scoring double to the second batter, Austin Jackson. Another double and single later in the first would push two more Indians’ across the plate to give Cleveland a 3-1 lead after one inning.
Triggs actually settled down in his second and third inning, not missing all too many bats but not allowing any hits either, the lone Indian to reach base in those innings reached via an Adam Rosales fielding error at shortstop. However, in the fourth, the bottom of the Indians’ order flexed some power of their own as Richie Shaffer lofted a ground rule double, placing Triggs back in the hot seat. Shaffer would be singled in, and following yet another walk of Gomes, Triggs was removed from the game. Liam Hendriks was tasked with tip-toeing out of the jam he was placed into, however Austin Jackson struck yet again and hit a two run double to push the Indians’ run total to six. Hendriks was able to get out of the inning without allowing any further damage, meaning Triggs’ final line on the day would be 3.2 innings pitched, five hits, six runs, two walks, and three strikeouts.
A’s pitching and defense performed admirably for the rest of the game in an effort to try and pick up Triggs’ mediocre performance. Hendriks allowed another double in the fifth inning, but quick thinking and a strong throw from Barreto, second baseman, cut another potential Cleveland run down at the plate a few batters later. In the sixth inning, with Ross Detwiler pitching, Bruce Maxwell gunned down a would-be base stealer with a strong throw. Chris Smith, in the eighth inning, gave up some hard contact, but got himself out of his own jam by picking off a runner at second base. All told, the A’s relief corps pitched 4.1 innings, allowing seven hits, earning five strikeouts, and failed to walk a single opposing batter.
Ultimately it wouldn’t be enough. A bevy of prospects in Matt Chapman, Chad Pinder, and Max Schrock, were tasked with making the ninth inning interesting, but two strikeouts and a groundout to second later, the game quietly ended with the Indians the victors in today’s exhibition by a score of 6-5.
Tomorrow, the A’s take on the D-Backs.