Sigh. Jesse Hahn pitched one of the best games of his career, going 8 innings and allowing only 3 baserunners, but the A’s were unable to generate enough offense to get the win. This game was not only slow offensively, but there was a constant sense of déjà vu as each team matched the other almost perfectly through the night. Ultimately, the A’s wasted multiple opportunities with a runner on first and 0 outs and those mistakes came back to haunt them.
This game was a straight-up pitchers’ duel through regular innings. Both JC Ramirez and Jesse Hahn pitched fantastic games. Ramirez went 7 innings, giving up only 2 walks and 2 hits while striking out 7. He located his 97-98mph fastball with precision and had incredible movement on his 90mph slider. Hahn, likewise, showed excellent control of his full arsenal, with his curveball in particular inducing tons of swings and misses throughout the Angels lineup. Hahn went 8 innings, giving up only 1 hit and 2 walks and getting 6 strikeouts. As someone fighting to keep a spot in Oakland’s rotation once Sonny Gray returns, Jesse Hahn made an extremely strong case for himself.
Jaff Decker got the first hit of the game to lead off the 4th. He was promptly erased on a leisurely steal attempt where he just kind of…trotted into the tag at second. A moment later, we saw Decker in the dugout wincing as the trainer wrapped his leg. It seemed for a moment like yet another outfielder had gone down and we had entered the age of LaMarre as early as April, but Decker stayed in the game and ultimately had probably the best night offensively of any Oakland hitter (and by that, I mean he reached base twice).
Andrelton Simmons notched the Angels’ hit of the game, a single with one out in the 5th. And just like Decker, he was immediately picked off on the basepath. After leading off too far, Simmons got in a pickle, and though the A’s made it more difficult than it should have been, he was eventually tagged out.
Jed Lowrie’s defensive turnaround continues. He put up a web gem, robbing Danny Espinosa of a base hit thanks to the magic of the shift in the 6th. Lowrie came right back with a perfect bunt single to start the 7th, but as had happened multiple times already, the A’s were powerless to even get him into scoring position.
Finally in the 8th, one of the starting pitchers stepped down and Blake Parker came in to pitch for the Angels. Plouffe took a leadoff walk which Joyce narrowly avoided erasing with a double play. And yet again, the A’s couldn’t get the runner past first.
In the 8th, Matt Joyce, not exactly renowned for his defense, made a fantastic diving catch for the first out of the inning. Jesse Hahn gave up a walk as he was approaching 100 pitches, but once again escaped the inning unscathed. This truly was one of the best pitching performances we’ve seen from Jesse Hahn in Oakland, and a reminder of what he is capable of when he has full command of his pitches (especially that beautiful curveball).
David Hernandez got the heart of the order for the A’s in the 9th. Healy, looking like he had never even heard of a slider before, earned the golden sombrero with his fourth strikeout of the night.
We saw something promising at least in the 9th. Sean Doolittle had a quick inning and did something we’ve never seen before - he threw 3 sliders in a row to strike out Kole Calhoun! The first pitch was somewhat hittable, but the other two were a mile off the plate. Doolittle seems to have developed a legitimate second pitch that could make him as effective a pitcher as he was when he could consistently throw 96.
Jose Alvarez pitched the 10th for Angels. Josh Phegley came in to pinch hit for Stephen Vogt. On the first pitch he saw, he did what both teams had failed to do all night and managed to advance past first base. And by that, I mean he hit a deep home run to right center field to finally, mercifully, put the A’s on the board. With one out, Plouffe singled, but Matt Joyce continued his horrid streak and this time hit into the double play that he had narrowly avoided in the 8th.
The bottom of the 10th Casilla pitching. The mirror match continued. Mike Trout did fish things and curved a home run just feet fair down the right field line. Casilla had made it very clear he was pitching outside and Trout managed to hit a pretty good pitch juuuuust well enough to put it in the corner. Pujols followed up with a single, and Ben Revere came in as a pinch runner and promptly stole second - opposing teams are 4/4 in steal attempts against Casilla. With no outs, a speedy runner on second, and Casilla on the mound, it felt like the win had already slipped away - but Casilla, agonizingly slowly, came back and induced 3 outs to send the game to the 11th.
In the 11th, Brooks Pounders (lol) pitched for Angels. Rosie led off with a bloop single and was bunted to second by Decker, but once again, Oakland’s baserunner was stranded.
And finally the bottom of the 11th. Madson came in to pitch for Oakland. Danny Espinosa lead off the inning with a sharply hit groundball single, and advanced to second on a bunt by Martin Maldonado. Espinosa is going to be this year’s Johnny Giavotella, isn’t he? Yet again, this inning seemed to echo what had just happened for Oakland, with the single and bunt. Unfortunately, this time the Angels were finally able to break through. Kole Calhoun singled and Danny Espinosa came around to give Anaheim the walkoff win, 2-1.
The series continues tomorrow, same time, same place. Hopefully that game won’t echo today’s.