Matt Chapman hit two home runs, the A’s pitching staff combined to only allow two runs against a potent Twins offense, and the A’s flashed leather all over the field in what was a total team effort in today’s victory over Minnesota.
After an All Star Worthy first half of the season, Jose Berrios hasn’t had his best stuff lately. And in the first inning today, his mechanics looked outright off. After striking out a hapless Nick Martini to kick off the game, he served up a curveball right on a platter to Matt Chapman. Chapman’s 19th home run of the season, and his MLB-best 26th extra base hit since the All Star Break, had a high arc and landed 355 feet away, just beyond the left field wall. After falling behind Khris Davis, the trainer was called out of the Twins’ dugout to check on Berrios, but he remained in the game. After giving up an infield single to Davis, he struck out a super-shifted Olson to get out of the first. While typically hitting 93-94 on the radar gun, he was hitting 91-92.
To be fair to Berrios, Chris Bassitt didn’t look so great himself on the mound. He got out of the first with no damage done, but was missing badly with his pitches, and in the second inning he walked two batters and had nearly as many balls thrown as strikes before recovering and getting a strikeout and an easy groundout to get out of his own jam. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Bassitt’s wildness finally cost him, as he gave up a booming shot to deep center field to Tyler Austin to tie the game at one apiece.
Considering how each pitcher looked, the fact that the game was tied 1-1 was rather astounding. However, the fifth inning wound up being a turning point for each pitcher. Berrios gave up three straight hits to start the inning. The first two hits were singles by Nick Martini and Matt Chapman, and the third was a booming double off the bat of Jed Lowrie that nearly wound up being a home run, and nearly wound up being a triple.
Unfortunately, Lowrie was ultimately out at third base after a relatively quick replay review, and the A’s couldn’t pile on further, but Berrios would be done after five innings pitched, three runs charged to his name, alongside eight hits and four strikeouts. For the A’s, Bassitt wouldn’t make it out of the fifth, as a two out hit by pitch, followed by a sharp single, triggered a call to the bullpen. Bassitt’s final line, in his spot start, was 4.2 innings pitched, one run, four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts.
In the sixth, each team traded a solo shot. Stephen Piscotty hit the home run that Lowrie had just missed an inning prior, and Tyler Austin lofted a home run towards the right field corner. Pitching for the A’s, Yusmeiro Petit gave up a lot of hard contact, and it was some slick defense from Piscotty that kept things from getting worse in that inning.
To begin the seventh, Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie went back to back off of relief pitcher Matt McGill. It was their 20th and 21st home runs respectively, and the impressive shots silenced the home crowd and dampened any hopes of a comeback. The A’s bullpen continued its shutdown ways, save for some slight drama with Rodney on the mound in the eighth inning, and the game was over in a flash.
After winning 6-2 and winning three of four in Minnesota, the A’s now have to set their sights on Houston, where a series sweep guarantees the A’s sole possession of first place in the division. The A’s were one Lucroy flub away from sweeping four in Houston the last time the A’s visited Minute Maid Park, and the A’s have only gotten better since.