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Spring Game #13: A’s breeze past Angels

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It’s always fun beating the Angels, even when the games don’t count.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s once again have a winning record in the Cactus League, after clipping the Angels on Thursday by the score of 7-3. Oakland now boasts six wins, five losses, and two ties this spring, including three victories in a row and no losses in their last five contests.

The game got off to a shaky start for the A’s. Their starting pitching has been coming around the last couple days thanks to strong outings from Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, but on Thursday they had another hiccup. This time it was Kendall Graveman, walking the first two hitters of the afternoon and allowing both to come around and score — the Angels finished the frame with two runs on just one hit, a single. For what little spring stats are worth, the one thing I don’t want to see Graveman do is give up walks.

On the bright side, he did remind us that he’s one of the best fielding pitchers in the sport:

Graveman ran into some more trouble in the 3rd, allowing a leadoff double to Ian Kinsler that later came around to score. He ultimately failed to make it out of the inning, but fortunately the bullpen put up zeroes the rest of the way.

Five relievers teamed up to finish out the game: Lou Trivino, Bobby Wahl, Jeremy Bleich, Simon Castro, and Nolan Blackwood. The best performance out of that group came from Wahl, who went two full innings while facing just one batter over the minimum. Trivino also pitched well, retiring four straight MLB hitters (Calhoun, Cozart, Valbuena, Simmons).

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Meanwhile, Oakland’s lineup was just as good as its pitching. The Angels scored first, but it didn’t take long for the A’s to catch up — not with dingers this time, but still with extra-base hits. Josh Phegley tripled (?) in the 3rd and scored on a sac fly, and then in the 4th Matt Olson launched a ground-rule double and later scored.

The A’s big inning came in the 5th. The table was set with a Phegley HBP and a Marcus Semien single, and then the heart of the order did the damage: an RBI single by Jed Lowrie, a two-run triple by Khris Davis, and a sac fly by Olson. That gave the green and gold a 6-3 lead that they never relinquished.

Oakland did tack on one more run in the 7th, and this might have been the most entertaining one of them all. Top prospect Jorge Mateo was making just his second appearance of the spring in his return from an offseason knee sprain, but he finally got to show off his wheels in a game setting. He reached on an infield single to lead off the frame, then stole second, then stole third, and then came around to score on a single by fellow speedster prospect Kevin Merrell. A Rickey Rajai Jorge Run! A moment later Merrell stole second as well, though he ended up stranded. The A’s future includes blazing speed.

Key lines

A few notable performances in the box score:

  • Graveman: 2⅔ ip, 3 runs, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits

The only real problem in this line is the walks. Without those, this outing would have looked a lot better and lasted slightly longer.

  • Trivino: 1⅓ ip (4 up, 4 down)
  • Wahl: 2 ip, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 hit (and 1 caught stealing, by Dustin Garneau)

Oddly, the A’s staff recorded only three strikeouts all day.

  • Semien: 2-for-2, sac fly, RBI
  • Lowrie: 2-for-3, RBI
  • Khrush: 1-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI
  • Olson: 1-for-2, sac fly, 2B, RBI
  • Phegley: 1-for-1, HBP, 3B
  • Mateo: 1-for-1, 2 SB, run

Unfortunately, Matt Chapman is still hitless this spring (0-for-11, 1 BB), but at least he’s healthy and playing. High-profile prospect Lazaro Armenteros also made an appearance, flying out to right as a pinch-hitter.

The A’s are back tomorrow, with a matchup against the Brewers. Friday’s game will be televised on MLB Network.