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Game #24: A Win’s a Win

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After a long stretch of frustrating baseball and a week of perpetual losing, any victory, no matter how it was played, can be a relief. The offense still looked anemic, Triggs’ control was sometimes lacking, but at the end of nine innings the A’s were still on top and the losing streak was over after five long games. Andrew Triggs and Jed Lowrie were the heroes of the game, Triggs pitching seven scoreless innings and Lowrie hitting the home run to provide all the offense the A’s needed tonight.

The strike zone was small in tonight’s affair, pitcher’s rarely getting borderline low and outside pitches called properly. As such, opposing batters didn’t need to bite on many of Andrew Triggs’ looping curveballs and darting sliders, forcing Triggs to throw more pitches up and over the plate. The Astros hit for a better average than any other team in the American League, and they collectively were able to take advantage by spraying singles and getting runners into scoring position in the early going. But Triggs, relying heavily on his offspeed pitches, navigated around a runners-on-second-and-third, one out threat by striking out Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran back-to-back, both swinging. In the third inning, a single and hit-batsman had the Astros in a good position to score again, but Triggs would retire Correa yet again to keep the Astros out of the run column.

Following a quiet first three innings, in which the A’s did not record a hit, Jed Lowrie broke the game’s 0-0 tie and Joe Musgrove’s perfect game effort with a loud blast high and deep to right field. While the A’s would not score again in the inning, both Ryon Healy and Yonder Alonso recorded singles to further show signs that the dormant lineup was starting to stir.

Triggs found himself in hot water again in the fourth inning, as well. After hitting Beltran to lead off the inning, Yuli Gurriel immediately followed it up with a sharp single to left. The next batter lofted a lazy fly ball into right field, where Jaff Decker camped under it and, upon seeing Beltran take off for third base on a tag up, uncorked a near-perfect throw that, after replay review confirmation, just barely beat the aging outfielder. The double play proved to be key, as Evan Gattis, persistent pain in the A’ss, hit a hard ground ball single down the first base line that surely could have scored Beltran and tied up the game, but instead the threat would end harmlessly as Triggs got another strikeout to get out of the inning with the lead intact.

The offense continued to make sparks in the fifth inning, but the team would ultimately be thwarted by a familiar arm in right field that cut down Chad Pinder at home plate to hold the score at 1-0. In the seventh the Astros burned through three pitchers to work around a single and a walk to keep the A’s off the board.

Triggs ended his outing stronger than he started it. He found his strikeout pitch despite the small strikezone, nine in total, and retired the final ten batters he faced on the day. He didn’t walk a single batter, though he did hit two, and only allowed five hits. Triggs has not allowed an earned run in four of his first five starts on the year.

Khris Davis hit a hard line drive home run the opposite way in the eighth inning to finally expand the A’s tenuous lead to 2-0, giving the A’s a two run lead that would last for precisely three total at bats before Jose Altuve, in the bottom of the eighth inning, hit a solo home run of his own off of Sean Doolittle in relief. In the bottom of the ninth, Santiago Casilla was able to get the save with few dramatics, and there was much rejoicing.

Andrew Triggs’ performance aside, the A’s didn’t blow their competition away today, but a win’s a win. No longer is the team sliding helplessly towards oblivion, as the slow climb back up the standings begins. The A’s didn’t make any major mental errors on the game, and the defense was solid, and the team did just enough to get the right breaks and secure victory number eleven.