For those of you soccer fans, you might recall Alan Hansen’s now infamous remark to Match of the Day (English soccer’s equivalent of Baseball Tonight.) Referring to Sir Alex Ferguson’s perhaps rebellious choice to field a team of young players, he stated, “You can’t win anything with kids.” The reason Hansen’s quote has become infamous is because Manchester United did indeed go onto win the Premier League that season, despite routinely playing line-ups consisting of as many as seven players younger than 21.
While we’re not going to win the World Series this year, and have an uphill climb to compete for a Wild Card spot in 2018, something about these kids makes me think we are going to win something someday. Depending on your definition of “kids”, the A’s got big performances from six or seven kids of them on Sunday.
I suppose we’ll start with the game’s biggest negative; it was a strange one for Sean Manaea. He looked as sharp as I can remember for short periods but the final line isn’t pretty: 3.1 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HR. Still, I think his first time through the order (barring the Yunel Escobar lead-off homerun) was very promising, not least because the velocity seems to have ticked back up a few miles per hour.
Because of Manaea’s rough start, it didn’t look like the A’s had any chance for much of the game. Some of the commenters mentioned they changed the channel, and I must admit that had I not been covering this one, I definitely would have turned off the TV sometime in the middle innings and gotten some yard work done. The Angels scored in five of the first six innings, and after the sixth inning concluded, led 10-5. Los Angeles of Anaheim or whatever they’re known as has decent bullpen too - tied for seventh in reliever fWAR - and given that the Angels are ostensibly still competing for a playoff spot, you kind of assumed they’d do whatever it took to lock this one down.
The A’s got a run back in the seventh but the real damage would come in the eighth. Khris Davis opened the scoring, driving in Jed Lowrie on Khrush’s 29th homerun of the year. Chad Pinder then singled in Ryon Healy after Healy doubled. Chapman followed that with a double of his own, pushing Pinder to third. With runners at second and third, Bruce Maxwell singled them both in, capping the five-run eighth. Most impressive about this rally? The whole thing happened with two outs.
Exciting as the eighth inning was, the Green and Gold had six more outs to get and...well we know what our bullpen has been like for much of the year. But a comeback wasn’t on the cards, although Cardiac Casilla sure walked right up the edge of disaster, loading the bases in the eighth, before tip toeing out of trouble. The ninth was less stressful, Blake Treinen just continues to impress, and worked two quick strikeouts before inducing a Mike Trout popout to end the game.
All told, the offense collected eighteen hits. Each starter had a hit, and seven of the nine had at least two. Pinder hit a bomb and a double, Chapman and Healy both doubled twice, and Jed Lowrie found his way on base four times. Josh Smith picked up the win, working a clean seventh. Daniel Coulombe, Liam Hendriks, and Simon Castro all pitched as well, with the latter two giving up runs. Semien and Brugman both made very avoidable errors (although you could make the argument that Semien and Healy should share Marcus’s error.)
But in the end, it was a day of positives. A win. A series win. A trade that stings a little - Yonder did a lot to establish himself as one of us in a very short period of time - but is consistent with our long term strategy. And perhaps most importantly, inspiring performances from a whole lot of kids.
No game tomorrow, but the A’s return to the Coliseum for a long home stand on Tuesday night against the Mariners. Enjoy your off day everyone, and have a wonderful rest of your weekend!