The last time the A’s were no hit was all the way back on July 3rd,1991, and the team has played 4231 games between then and now. Today almost reset the numbers back to zero, save for a Marcus Semien single in the seventh inning that skirted passed the Angels’ third baseman and shortstop. In this afternoon’s ballgame, the A’s met their match, and for the first time this season, appeared as though they had absolutely no chance of winning the game.
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This was the type of game where there is little more to do than tip your cap to your opponents, no matter the vitriol you may or may not feel towards them. Shohei Ohtani has been making his presence known in a big way over his first two weeks of his career, and today’s game was his biggest statement yet.
The A’s swung and missed on more than half of their attempts at Ohtani offerings from start to finish. Over seven innings pitched, Ohtani struck out twelve Athletics and only allowed three balls out of the infield. The two baserunners Ohtani allowed came from consecutive batters, Semien via his aforementioned single and Lowrie via a walk, in the seventh, and Ohtani worked out of that jam by inducing a weak comebacker and a strikeout from two of the A’s best hitters. Ohtani’s location was impeccable today, pairing his control with fastballs and splitters with so much movement, his catcher Martin Maldonado often appeared unready to receive such pitches. He also used his velocity as a weapon better than most, as he contrasted his 100-MPH heater with a 68-MPH curveball and a high-80’s splitter that always dove out of the strike zone the moment an A’s batter committed to it. It was a near perfect performance for baseball’s newest star.
Graveman lived up to his name and dug a hole for the A’s early, though with Ohtani on the mound opposite him, the A’s didn’t have much of a chance today, anyhow. Graveman struggled mightily with his location once again on the mound. While his heavy sinker and cutter both touched 95 on the radar gun, Graveman had no chance to succeed in this game after leaving offering after offering in the top half of the strike zone. Graveman was forced to throw twenty-to-thirty pitches per inning until he was mercifully relieved part way through the fourth inning, where the bleeding of Angels runs was slowed somewhat. Hopefully the tough start for the A’s opening day starter turns around soon, as he can be a very solid pitcher when his location is on.
Other than a home run surrendered by Danny Coulombe after he attempted to start a second inning of work, the A’s bullpen kept the Angels’ bats at bay, using a combination of Hendriks, Coulombe, Petit, and Casilla. Had anyone else other than Ohtani been on the mound against the A’s bats, the bullpen gave the team every opportunity to chip away and make a comeback against an early hole.
Can’t win ‘em all, especially when facing one of the best pitchers on the planet. At least the A’s avoided a shutout thanks to a relatively meaningless ninth inning solo bomb from Matt Joyce. Action for the A’s continues after the team’s first off-day, still in Los Angeles, on Tuesday in Dodger Stadium.