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Khris Davis continued mashing — the A’s DH slugged his 32nd long ball of the season and drove home the A’s only two runs of the evening. But past Davis, tonight’s bright spot was probably MC Hammer’s first pitch. In the end, the A’s fell to the Dodgers 4-2.
Los Angeles’ hitters came into this series with baseball’s highest walk rate and their patience paid off in this contest as they worked seven free passes. Every A’s pitcher walked a batter, save Jeurys Familia, and Oakland starter Sean Manaea walked three.
Manaea’s final line looks pretty ugly, but actually could have been quite a bit worse. The Throwin’ Samoan pitched just 2.2 innings, giving up five hits and the aforementioned three walks. Those eight outs required 77 pitches; it’s fair to say Sean just didn’t have it tonight. But while he allowed a run in each of his three innings of work, the A’s escaped the third down just 3-0. It was going to be a heavy bullpen night, but following an off day and with the A’s strong ‘pen, the A’s were still in it with a fighting chance.
And in all truth, the bullpen, while perhaps not as sharp as we’ve seen, was pretty darn good. Called on for six-plus innings of work, Emilio Pagan, Ryan Buchter, Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit, and Jeurys Familia allowed just a single run. It’s true that the walks were plentiful, but the hits weren’t, and whenever the A’s relievers needed to make a pitch, they pretty much did. This was certainly true of the 2-0, 2 out, bases loaded lineout Kelley induced of Justin Turner, as it was of the Yasiel Puig double play that ended the seventh with two runners on. And even the lone run allowed was the fault of the baseball Gods letting a cue shot Texas leaguer fall in.
In any event, if the bullpen had been perfect, it wouldn’t have mattered - the offense was anemic. The A’s did run 75% of their knocks for extra bases, and that sounds great and all until you see that Oakland only amassed four hits. Matt Chapman doubled and scored on Khris Davis’ long homer. Stephen Piscotty doubled too. And the A’s only other hit came off the bat of Khris Davis - an infield single in the fourth. Like the Dodgers, the A’s did their share of walking, but needed another timely hit or two to cash in.
For Los Angeles, our old friend Rich Hill turned in a quintessential Rich Hill outing - 5.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 5 K, 2 ER. The only thing that could have made it more “Rich Hill” was if he had left with a blister. He didn’t - although he was chased by Davis’ homer. Hill was effectively wild, and barring a couple sixth inning mistakes, was very good. The bullpen was even better. A bunch of relievers you’ve probably never heard of combined with Kenley Jansen to shut down the A’s in the latter innings and ensure the Dodgers’ victory.
And a big victory it was; tonight’s win moved the Dodgers past the D’Backs into first place in the NL West. Relevant to our race, the Yankees outlasted the White Sox in 13 and the Giants couldn’t help us out against the Astros, but at least the Mariners lost. It doesn’t get any easier tomorrow as Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for Los Angeles, a guy you certainly would have liked to avoided in this quick two game series. But we must play the hand we’re dealt, and we’ll get to watch the most recent pitcher for whom we dealt tomorrow as Mike Fiers gets the start. Same place, same time — hopefully different result.