After what was a quite surprising 4-3 loss Friday night in Anaheim, the A’s bounced back in a big way Saturday. They shut out the Los Angeles Angels behind starter Edwin Jackson, Marcus Semien and one of the most unbelievable defensive plays that you will likely ever see by rookie center fielder Ramon Laureano.
Angels’ starter Tyler Skaggs, fresh off the disabled list, made it just 3 1⁄3 innings allowing all seven of the A’s runs (three of which were home runs) on 10 hits. Somehow he manage to get five strikeouts and only walk one batter despite giving up the A’s onslaught of runs. The A’s only put four hits on the board once Skaggs was removed from the game. Hansel Robles took over for Skaggs pitching an inning and two-thirds while allowing three more A’s hits. Williams Jerez pitched an inning and Noe Ramirez pitched two, neither allowing a hit during their time on the mound but both getting one strikeout and each allowing one walk. With rookie catcher Jose Briceno, who made his big league debut on May 26, behind the plate Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia went the team’s backup catcher, another rookie who made his debut in the majors exactly two months after Briceno on July 26, Francisco Arcia to pitch the 9th. After getting Khris Davis and Matt Olson to ground out and pop out, respectively, Arcia allowed the A’s 14th hit of the evening to Stephen Piscotty and then got Chad Pinder on another ground out to end the top of the inning.
On offense the Angels got just five total hits with just three coming off of Jackson, a double to Justin Upton in the bottom of the first, a single to Albert Pujols in the fourth and another double to Kaleb Cowart in the eighth inning. The final two came off of Emilio Pagan who pitched the ninth for the A’s. Pagan allowed singles to both Shohei Ohtani and Jose Fernandez before ending the game and preserving the A’s lead for the victory.
The A’s Offense:
Once again the A’s scored early but in Saturday’s game they scored a bit more often. The A’s had 14 hits collectively but it was Marcus Semien who started off the game and the scoring with a lead-off double and later in the inning he scored on a single by Matt Chapman. Semien was definitely the offensive star of this game, moving back to the lead-off spot against the left-handed Skaggs. In the second inning with Piscotty and Lucroy on first and second, Semien launched a three-run bomb over the fence in left field, making the score 4-0 Oakland. It was just his eighth home run of the season, but there was more to come from Semien at the plate.
Khris Davis krushed his 34th home run of the year, going oppo yet again, into right field seats with one out in the top of the third to make the score 5-0 in favor of the A’s. It was Semien again who got things going for the A’s in the top of the fourth inning. After a ground out by Jonathan Lucroy, Semien went deep again to left field for a solo shot, his second home run of the game and ninth of the season. The A’s kept things rolling after that with a pair of singles by Chapman and Jed Lowrie before Scioscia decided to go to his bullpen, bringing in Robles. Robles gave up a first pitch line drive single to Davis that plated Chapman giving the A’s their seventh and final run of the night. Matt Olson then came in to pinch hit for Mark Canha who had started off the game at first base, but he grounded into a double play to end the inning. The team would go on to get three more hits, two singles by Piscotty and one by Lucroy but would end up leaving them on base.
Edwin Jackson put up his best performance as a member of the Athletics Saturday night at the Big A. He later praised his defense and offense for the help, but he’s a humble man and not to say that he pitched brilliantly would be a lie. Jackson held the Angels to just three hits and three walks while striking out six and pitching seven and a third scoreless innings. The 16-year and almost 35-year-old veteran, who’s currently tied with former A’s closer Octavio Dotel for having played for the most number of teams over the course of his career has been an immense help (a Godsend, some might say!) to the A’s after the litany of injuries to what was once the starting staff and a number of their replacements. This game was no different in the fact that he pitched well but he was close to making it a complete game. Going into the bottom of the eighth inning Jackson had tossed just 95 pitches, which really isn’t all that many for Jackson. as recently as 2010 he threw 140 pitches in his no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately a complete game for Jackson was not in the cards on Saturday as he allowed a double to Cowart to lead off the inning, got Briceno to strike out on just three pitches but it was the eight-pitch at-bat to Eric Young Jr. that culminated in a walk that ended his night. Complete game or not, Jackson pitched a gem and held the Angels scoreless into the eighth inning.
Ramon Laureano and the defensive play(s) of the year:
If you thought that Laureano’s defense in his first big league game was amazing, especially his throw from center field to third base in the top of the 13th inning to save the game for the A’s, then be prepared for the video below because you haven’t seen anything yet!
To say that Laureano stole the show would be an understatement. The reactions to this play by both team’s announcers, his teammates and especially, Dallas Braden were priceless. It was (or will be) one of, if not the, single, greatest defensive plays that you see in your lifetime. After running 80 feet to make an incredible catch, he launched the ball 321 feet (according to Statcast) from center field directly into Mark Canha’s glove all the way at first base.
You'll fall in love with Ramón Laureano's speed, but you'll want to marry Ramón Laureano's arm. W O W ! pic.twitter.com/3dRaPkL249— Oakland Athletics ⚾️ (@Athletics) August 12, 2018
Incredible, right? You’re going to want to watch that one again, at least a couple of times. I’ve never seen anything like it, which is slightly unnerving as I said similar words after his 13th inning throw last week! Who knows what he may have in store for us next?! It was mAgic!
When all was said and done, the A’s defeated the Angels 7-0. They are 1.5 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners, who defeated the Houston Astros for the third straight game and now just 3.5 games out of first place in the AL West. They may be surprising the rest of the baseball world but isn’t that just what the A’s always seem to do? It appears that the postseason is closer than even the fans expected (even if A’s fans are used to the unexpected).