The Oakland A’s accomplished what they set out to do in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres. They stopped their five-game skid using mostly solid pitching and an offense that included contributions from almost everyone in the lineup. Oakland finished the day with a decisive 12-4 victory.
The first two innings were quiet for both starters, Frankie Montas for the Athletics and Clayton Richard for the Padres. But things began to go awry for them both in the third.
Richards surrendered a solo-shot to left to catcher Josh Phegley with one out, then put center fielder Boog Powell on base after hitting him with a pitch. Next up was shortstop Franklin Barreto who hit his second homer of the spring, scoring two more for the A’s who were now up 3-0 going into the bottom of the third inning.
Montas went 2.1 innings allowing a two-run opposite field shot to the Padres’ newest addition and “superstar,” first baseman Eric Hosmer, for his first homerun in a Friars’ uniform. After walking the next batter, Chase Headley, on four straight pitches Montas’ day was done. A’s skipper Bob Melvin then called for Yusmeiro Petit to take over on the mound.
More scoring came for the Athletics in the top of the fourth as Mark Canha homered off of Padres’ right-hander Craig Stammen, plating Jake Smolinski who had singled to lead off the inning.
In the top of the seventh the A’s offense didn’t have to rely on the long ball to score off of Tom Wilhelmsen. Kevin Merrell led off the inning with a triple and scored when the next batter Anthony Garcia hit a double down the right field line. Beau Taylor then stepped in for Matt Joyce at DH and took a four-pitch walk to put yet another man on base. With still no outs in the inning, Ramon Laureano singled to center, loading the bases. Slade Heathcott then smoked a single to right that plated both Garcia and Taylor. The A’s fourth and final run of the seventh came on a sacrifice fly from Nick Martini that allowed Laureano to score from third.
Padres pitcher Carter Capps couldn’t stop the damage in the eighth inning as he allowed solo shots to both Merrell and Garcia, one to right and the other to left, respectively. The A’s scored their final run of the game off of Capps after he allowed a double to Heathcott and an RBI-single to Martini.
While the lineup scored a total of 12 runs, the Athletics’ pitchers held the Padres to just four. Petit pitched 1.2 hitless innings while striking out three batters and Blake Treinen followed him allowing three hits and a run over a single inning pitched. Danny Coulombe and Chris Bassitt followed that up with a hitless inning each. Nolan Blackwood closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth allowing a hit, a walk and the defense allowed one unearned run.
Still, the four runs put up by the Padres did minimal damage in the end. The Athletics’ pitching was solid overall, following in step with the team’s goal to keep their pitching in check.
And the offense was alive and well, utilizing not just the long ball but impressively keeping the ball inside the park during their biggest scoring inning in the seventh. Even though most of the players who led the scoring in the seventh inning won’t be with the big league club come April, it was an impressive improvement for a team that has, at least of late, relied on hitting the ball out of the yard to score.
In the end, the A’s left Peoria victorious, having broken their losing streak, shown some solid pitching and good offense. It was definitely a good day that brought the Athletics out of their dark slide and back into the light.
You’re probably also wondering about how the A’s soon-to-be-star third baseman did in his first game of the preseason. He flied out in his first two at-bats but was later able to draw a walk in the sixth. The walk didn’t lead to a run, but going 0-2 with a walk really isn’t bad for his first day back. Pretty soon he will be hitting dingers left and right, just as he did during batting practice on Saturday. Chapman will have Monday off before working toward everyday play.