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The Indians’ hit eleven doubles, the most in an MLB game in fifteen years, and batted around in the eighth inning before an A’s pitcher was able to record a single out. Cleveland notched twenty hits total, thirteen of which went for extra bases. The A’s had some good at bats, and put frequent pressure on the base paths, but they also continually shot themselves in the foot with aggressive-but-poorly-executed stolen base attempts.
The big story of today’s game, other than the historic day the Indians’ had on offense, was Bob Melvin’s choice to pitch Chris Hatcher with the A’s trailing by just two runs and with momentum on their side building. To start what would be a long day for the pitching staff, Frankie Montas pitched, more or less, like the player he is projected to be. His fastball continued to show respectable velocity, but it was flat and predictable, and his offspeed stuff was inconsistent, occasionally showing off flashes of elite capabilities. The contact he gave up today was loud, and he is, fortunately, lucky to have lasted as long as he did in the game and have gotten the line 5.2 innings pitched, nine hits allowed, seven of which were doubles, three runs, six strikeouts, and no walks.
Yusmeiro Petit was brought on in relief of Montas with the team down by two runs and managed to finish the sixth inning, but in the seventh he fell behind in the count to Francisco Lindor as well as Edwin Encarnacion, and surrendered a solo home run to each of them.
When Hatcher entered the game, the A’s answered the Indians’ home runs with a pair of runs of their own. Three consecutive singles from Matt Joyce, Marcus Semien, and Jonathan Lucroy knocked one run home, and a productive out from Mark Canha scored one more. Though there were two outs, the A’s still had runners on the corners and were poised for more, but Mark Canha was thrown out stealing second to end the inning.
Replay was involved after the A’s challenged the out call against Canha. It was very close. From a couple of camera angles Canha looked very much safe. On one other he looked very much out. It was ruled inconclusive, and Canha remained out, ending the inning and the rally. The Canha caught stealing was the second time in the game the A’s gave away an out on the base paths, as Semien was picked off earlier in the ballgame. Semien’s aggression on the bases has not paid off well this year like it did the last, as the shortstop has either lost some pep in his step or has worsening instincts while on base.
So Hatcher entered the game with a 5-3 score. In the sixth inning, with the A’s trailing by two, Melvin turned to Petit, one of the teams elite high-leverage relievers despite his recent struggles on the mound. In the eighth, a more pressing inning, Melvin then turned to Hatcher, the lowest-leverage reliever on the team amongst the permanent big-leaguers.
Emilio Pagan was unavailable after his long outing in yesterday’s game, and Ryan Buchter was unavailable after pitching two straight games since returning from the DL. Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen, presumably, were available, but they had each appeared in five of the team’s previous eight games, and the team can’t use its best relievers like it is in a short playoff series. If the A’s are to make a postseason push, like they are, arguably, doing right now, having both Trivino and Treinen healthy over the full season and beyond is more important than one regular season game against a non-division opponent. Petit had already been used, leaving Melvin with the choice of Hatcher, Josh Lucas, and Santiago Casilla.
Melvin had to turn to all three of those unsavory options. Whether or not his decision to turn to Hatcher over Trivino will surely be debated throughout the off day tomorrow.
Hatcher faced four batters, and gave up a single, double, and hit batsman to load the bases before surrendering another single to score a run. Hatcher was removed and Lucas was put in the game, and Lucas promptly gave up a walk to the first batter he faced to force in a second run. Then he gave up a single. Then a single. Then a walk. Then a single. Then a double. The first ten batters all reached base in the inning before Lucas got three easy outs to end what would be an eight run inning for the Tribe. The score was now 13-3.
Casilla walked the first batter he faced in the ninth, and later gave up the tenth and eleventh doubles for the Indians’ team to allow two more runs to score. There would be no comeback on this day.
The A’s winning streak comes to a close in unspectacular fashion. The team gets a much needed day off to chew the fat on this one, before resuming their home stand in a short two game series against the Padres.