Tuesday’s victory paired the old — the A’s remained unbeaten in Mike Fiers’ starts and Ramon Laureano and Matt Chapman came up huge defensively — with the new, Jeurys Familia earned his first A’s save. A three-run third inning was all the offense the A’s could muster, and although the Orioles chipped away as the night wore on, it proved to be just enough.
Tonight’s pitching match-up was a testament to the shrewd moves the front office has made this season. Indeed, sometimes the best move is to make no move at all.
Many on Athletics Nation — myself included — were clamoring for Oakland to sign Alex Cobb throughout the off-season, and particularly so as he remained on the market as spring began.
Putting it politely, Cobb has had an up-and-down season, and lasted just two innings tonight before being removed due to a recurrent blister problem. Cobb’s counterpart, Mike Fiers, was absolutely brilliant, as he’s been in virtually each of his seven starts since coming over from Detroit last month. Fiers went six strong, striking out seven Orioles. The beautifully bearded right hander allowed just four hits, a walk, and an earned run.
The A’s manged just seven hits themselves, but parlayed a three-spot in the third inning into victory. Instead of relying on the long ball, the A’s played the station-to-station game.
Jonathan Lucroy led off the frame with a walk, and came around to score on Matt Chapman’s double two batters later. Jed Lowrie followed with another walk, and Khris Davis singled home Chapman. And with two outs, Stephen Piscotty capped the scoring with another single.
The A’s wouldn’t threaten again until the eighth, when they advanced runners to second and third with two outs. But Fiers’ strong effort and our bullpen’s continued dominance made that all moot. Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect seventh, striking out two. Lou Trivino had a more difficult time in the eighth, yielding two hits and a run, but escaped with the lead still in tact. And Jeurys Familia pitched a clean ninth to earn his first ever American League save, and his 18th overall in 2018.
The play of the game was undoubtedly Ramon Laureano’s eighth inning, inning-ending grab.
Laureano & the Labor of Glove pic.twitter.com/3BzuL8QWiF— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 12, 2018
Laureano has been part of the major-league team for such a short period of time, and yet I’ve lost count of how many incredible plays he has made in center field. If this ball gets by him, best case scenario, the Orioles tie the game.
Never one to miss out on the web gem debate, Matt Chapman also made a pretty impressive inning-ending play himself.
Not enough credit can be given to the front office. Just as questions were emerging regarding whether the Beane/Forst regime had lost the plot, they pulled off inspired move after inspired move. The guy who drove in the game’s deciding run was a Cardinal last season. Just one of tonight’s four Oakland pitchers was even in the organization last season, and he didn’t pitch a big league inning. And the guy who made the game’s biggest play - Ramon Laureano - was a quintessential diamond in the rough pickup, a talent identification masterpiece that would have made Arsene Wenger blush.
And so the A’s have won five in a row, seven of eight, and 54 of 75. Now we just need the Astros to start losing.