Spring Training Game #12: A's Bats Stay Hot, Wallop Reds

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An eternal thought of the pessimistic baseball fan is "The team is scoring a ton of runs? Well I’m sure tomorrow we’re gonna lose 1-0." If that sort of regression is coming for the A’s, it wasn’t happening today against the Reds. The scorching Oakland offense got going early and never looked back. The game was all but over by the end of the 2nd inning, as the A’s sent 21 men to the plate and scored 10 of them.

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The onslaught started immediately. Matt Joyce, who Bob Melvin wanted to get a look at in the leadoff spot, had a banner day. He and Lowrie each singled to start the first. After a well struck Healy fly out, back-to-back walks drawn by Davis and Vogt forced in the Green and Gold’s first run. The big hit in the inning came from the hottest hitter of the spring, Trevor Plouffe. His double plated two runs, and one Marcus Semien sac fly later the A’s were up 4-0.

Sean Manaea’s start was a satisfying rebound from getting lit up in his last outing. The big lefty came out firing in the first, striking out the side using a fastball in one at-bat, a change up in another, and a slider in the last. His only blemish was an Adam Duvall home run leading off the top of the second. The inning could have gone awry after Eugenio Suarez followed the homer with a single, but Suarez was immediately erased on a double play and Manaea was out of danger.

The Throwin’ Samoan easily worked around another single and a walk and his day was done when he reached his pitch count two outs into the fourth inning. Bobby Wahl came in to strike out Desmond Jennings looking, and the book was closed on Manaea.

It was a forgettable day for Reds pitching. Starter Tim Adleman had nothing going for him in the first, and he exited in the second after knocking down a hard line drive off the bat of Jed Lowrie. Things didn’t get any better from there. The first man out of the pen was Kevin Shackelford, who walked the first man he faced. A Khris Davis strikeout was Shackelford’s brief respite before the wheels fell off completely.

Stephen Vogt doubled in two runs to make it 6-1, one Adleman’s and one Shackelford’s. Trevor Plouffe drew a walk, the sixth issued by Reds pitching. Semien singled, scoring Vogt, and like clockwork Yonder Alonso singled in Plouffe. The Reds had a chance to end the inning on a Rajai Davis ground ball, but a poor throw from third baseman Eugenio Suarez loaded the bases. Matt Joyce took Oakland’s seventh walk of the day, forcing in another run and putting him on base for the third time in two innings. An RBI single by Lowrie ended Shackelford’s outing in the same inning it began.

New pitcher Barrett Astin got out of the second, but a Khris Davis double and Trevor Plouffe ground ball single gave the A’s their 11th run in the following inning. Another run was plated in the fourth, and the rest of the game wasn’t much more than a formality as most of the starters were subbed out and Oakland didn’t score again. Robert Stephenson and Jackson Stephens (no relation) pitched the final five innings for Cincinnati, the latter being the only Reds pitcher to not allow a run.

Like Manaea, Bobby Wahl’s only dent was a solo homer. This one came off the bat of former Athletics pinch runner Arismendy Alcantara. Wahl continued to make a case for himself as a major league bullpen option, striking out three.

A’s pitchers kept things calm the rest of the way. Ross Detwiler pitched an inning, walking one and picking up a strikeout. After him was another possible beneficiary of Sonny Gray’s injury, Daniel Gossett. Gossett danced in and out of trouble in his scoreless first two innings and earned himself a chance to finish off the game, but the 24 year old broke down a bit in his third inning of work. Gossett got the first hitter of the ninth to fly out but a single and two walks brought Brandon Mann on to relieve him.

Mann, a 32 year old lefty hoping to make his MLB debut in 2017, has been putting in work at Driveline Baseball this offseason. Mann allowed a bases clearing double to the first hitter he faced, all three runs charged to Gossett, but struck out the next two and the ballgame was over.

Every A’s pitcher did a solid job, and every starter was on base if you count Rajai reaching on error. The A’s didn’t commit any errors themselves and some nice plays were made by the often defensively challenged Jed Lowrie and Franklin Barreto.

If there was any notable negative today, though he only had one at-bat Bruce Maxwell has continued to do nothing to make the backup catcher decision hard on the A’s front office. He is now 1-for-13 this spring. With Phegley struggling on both sides of the ball there’s a clear opening for Maxwell, but what looked like a good problem to have a couple of weeks ago hasn’t behaved as such.

The A’s win it by a final score of 12-5 without the benefit of a home run. They’re back at it tomorrow with a 4:05 start against the Kansas City Royals.