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Game #115: Fiers and TNT spark 3-2 win over the Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland Athletics
Mike was on Fiers tonight as the righty dominated the Dodgers in his Oakland debut
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

***Tonight’s Game Preview and GameThread #1 Here***
***Tonight’s GameThread #2 Here***

The Fiers Era Begins in Oakland
Mike Fiers came into tonight’s game on a personal hot streak, having allowed 3 runs or less in 11 of this last 12 starts and in five July starts, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.23 ERA (32.1IP/8ER) and 23 strikeouts. But those numbers were with the below .500, cellar dwelling, Detroit Tigers. Conventional wisdom wondered what Fiers would do if thrown into a pennant race. In his Oakland A’s debut, conventional wisdom learned a big lesson that Mike is just as on Fiers (I promise I will get all of these puns out of my system by September) in the green and gold uniform as he was in Detroit. He threw all his pitches for strikes tonight, relying on his cutter and a nasty split fingered fastball to get strikouts like this one:

Fiers was dominant early in tonight’s interleague matchup, throwing 5 13 innings, striking out eight and not allowing a hit or runner until the fifth inning.

A’s Offense Draws First Blood Against Kershaw
On the offensive side, the A’s faced the tall task of hitting against one of the best lefthanded pitchers in the modern era in Clayton Edward Kershaw. Kershaw matched Fiers in the early going as the A’s managed just two singles through the first three innings. Then with one out in the 4th inning, Khris Davis got aboard on a single to left. Mark Canha came into tonight’s ballgame hitting .287 with 11 of his 14 homers against lefthanded pitching. He once again took advantage of a southpaw in this one, lasering a line drive single to center to put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out.

After a Matt Olson popout, slumping Stephen Piscotty stepped up with the two runners still on base and two outs. Piscotty battled to a 3-2 count and then singled to center, scoring Davis and moving to Canha to third base. A’s rookie outfielder, Ramon Laureno, batted next and with one whole career at-bat against Kershaw after a second inning groundout, he promptly figured out the Dodgers ace and dumped a seeing eye single to right, to plate Canha and make the score 2-0, A’s after four innings.

Dodgers Answer Back in the Top of the 5th Inning
After recording the first out of the 5th inning, Fiers tried to sneak a chin high fastball past Dodgers catcher, Yasmani Grandal. Grandal responded by depositing the pitch deep into the righfield stands, breaking up the perfect game and putting LA on the scoreboard. Cody Bellinger and Max “do you remember how I rolled ground ball after ground ball to second base when I played here in Oakland and now I hit homers” Muncy, both singled, before Fiers would escape the inning with just one run allowed.

BoMel Goes to the Bullpen for TNT Early
Fiers was only at 78 pitches when he allowed a one out double to Manny Machado in the sixth inning. But with Fiers now facing the Dodgers line-up for the dreaded third time and with him most likely facing some type of let down after the adrenline of the early innings of his A’s debut, A’s manager, Bob Melvin went to his plus relievers (Trivino, Familia and Treinen, i.e. “TNT”), bringing in Trivino to face the heart of the Dodgers order. Trivino got dangerous Justin Turner to lineout to short to grab the second out of the inning and then he and the A’s wisely pitched around the left hand batting Grandal to bring up recently acquired Brian Dozier with two on and two out. Trivino pumping strikes, got Dozier in a 0-2 hole, threw a purpose waste pitch and then induced a ground ball to get out of the inning and preserve the A’s lead.

Melvin brought Trivino out again for the top of the 7th inning and he promptly allowed a leaf-off single to Cody Bellinger. Bellinger advanced to second on a grounder by Max “seriously, I have always been this good” Muncy to bring up shortstop, Chris Taylor. Taylor took a strike from Trivino and then on the next delivery, looped a single to left, scoring Bellinger and tying the game at two and officially makig this a bullpen game.

Our Bullpen is Better than Your Bullpen
Pop-Quiz: Who would you rather in the 8th inning of a tie ballgame?
In this corner for the A’s, Former All-Star, Jeurys Familia, with a 2.36 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 49 23 innings and 17 saves in 2018 and who so far with the A’s has:

Or would you rather have:
In this corner for the Dodgers, J.T. Chargois, a journeyman righthander with 50 career innings in the majors.

No offense to Chargois (he actually has been lights out the last month) but the A’s relief corps give the team such a clear advantage in almost every bullpen game they will play the rest of the season. Tonight was no exception.

The “Aighth” Inning
Familia pitched a scoreless inning in the 8th inning (stranding Justin Turner at 2nd) to set up the A’s offense against Chargois (2-3) in the magical inning that is affectionally known to A’s Nation as the “Aeighth” inning in 2018. The bottom of the 8th started with a Marcus Semien single. Matt Chapman then lined out to bring up Jed Lowrie. Lowrie in desperate need of a hit, came up with a clutch single to right, to put runners on 1st and 3rd with one out and the A’s hottest hitter, Khris Davis due up.

Davis quickly fell behind 1 ball and 2 strikes before fouling off 3 consecutive pitches and taking a ball to even the count. On his eighth pitch of the at-bat, Davis pulled a ball to Manny Machado at 3rd base. Machado made a decent throw to the plate to try and cut down the streaking Marcus Semien who was running on contact. The ball appeared to beat Semien to the plate and the tag, if effective, would have produced the out. However, the tag by Grandal wasn’t effective, the ball squirted out and the A’s had the lead, 3-2!

Here are some more of the incredible stats the A’s have been piling up late in games:

Treinen Closes the Door
Blake Treinen rolled into the 9th inning with video game type numbers, having allowed only 3 runs in his past 30 innings and with a season ERA of 0.95 with 75 K’s in 57 innings.

The first batter he would face in the 9th this evening was Dodgers CF, Cody Bellinger, Treinen took the count to 3-2 on Bellinger before striking him out on a 92 mph cut fastball. Yasiel Puig would also take the count full against Treinen before working a walk.

With one out and the tying run on 1st base, Max “yes, I really did participate in the HR Derby at the All-Star Game” Muncy, would face the A’s closer. Treinen got ahead of Muncy 1 ball and two strikes before getting a ground ball to Matt Olson at first base. The ball could have been a game ending double play, but the Dodgers wisely had Puig running on the play and the A’s had to settle for the out at first.

With Puig now in scoring postion but the Dodgers down to their final out, up stepped, SS Chris Taylor. Taylor had knocked in the tying run in the 7th inning and now came up looking to tie the game again. This time Taylor couldn’t come through as Treinen shut the door down once again, getting Taylor to pop up to Jed Lowrie in shallow right field.

It is Treinen’s 29th save of the season (tied for 5th in the Majors) and Jeurys Familia gets his 3rd win with the A’s (7-4 overall).

3 Game Lead in the Wild Card Race:
With tonight’s victory, the A’s move to 21 games over .500 once again and more importantly gain another game on the Mariners who lost earlier to Texas. The A’s now have an amazing 3 game lead on the M’s for the second wildcard position

The A’s are off tomorrow (aren’t you loathing off days during this incredible run?!!) and get back on the field down in SoCal beginning Friday Night vs. the Angels.

Soak it in A’s Nation, it is August and the playoff race is officially upon us!