Thursday’s game started out innocently enough, remaining scoreless through the first two innings. It didn’t look great when the Angels got on the board first as A’s starter Edwin Jackson walked Kole Calhoun and subsequently gave up a run scoring double to Jose Fernandez. However, when it was the A’s turn to hit in the bottom of the third inning, that’s exactly what they did and they didn’t seem to be able to stop.
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The A’s offensive onslaught:
The A’s then began their eradication of the Angels pitching staff beginning in the bottom of the third. They put up a five spot and ultimately knocked out Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker, after he allowed a three-run home run to Stephen Piscotty. It was Piscotty’s second in less than 24 hours. With the score now 5-1 in favor of the A’s, Shoemaker was replaced (and I can’t help but laugh at this one) by Jim Johnson (yes, that Jim Johnson, who we all know and just loved so much back in 2014!) who managed to get the final out of the bottom of the third and two outs on a double play in the A’s half of the fourth, but not without allowing two more runs to score, before being replaced by Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa let both runners, Olson and Piscotty, he inherited from Johnson to score. Olson on a double by Ramon Laureano and both Piscotty and Laureano scored on a single by Marcus Semien. By the end of the fourth, the Athletics were already working with an 11-run lead.
Career-high five RBI for Marcus!— Oakland Athletics ⚾️ (@Athletics) September 20, 2018
After a quiet fifth, the Angels scored a run in the top of the sixth on Mike Trout’s 36th homer of the season off of Edwin Jackson, who was replaced by Emilio Pagan, after walking the next batter, Shohei Ohtani. Pagan ended the inning and the A’s bats were at it again in the bottom of the sixth putting six more runs on the board. Krush lead off the inning with a double and was followed by two walks to Olson and Piscotty. With the bases now loaded and nobody out, Laureano singled to plate Davis and Semien hit a bases clearing double to plate Olson, Dustin Fowler, who had come in to pinch run for Piscotty and Laureano. After yet another Angels pitching change, Josh Phegley singled allowing Semien to score. Next Nick Martini singled and Pinder walked to load the bases once again. Franklin Barreto then grounded into a double play but with nobody out, Phegley was able to cross home plate giving the A’s a 18-2 lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh it appeared that they A’s may have been done scoring for the afternoon, however that was not the case as Phegley singled again and Martini then hit his first career big league home run, collecting two more RBI in the process. The next batter was Pinder, who also homered with a solo shot, also off of Angels’ catcher turned reliever, at least for today, Francisco Arcia. That homer ended the A’s scoring for the day and left them with a 21-2 lead over the Angels.
21 runs today. Within striking distance of the top Wild Card spot. This is fun. #SeptemberBaseball pic.twitter.com/cBko2qpHlM— MLB (@MLB) September 21, 2018
Oh so many pitching changes:
Overall, the Angels used six pitchers and allowed a total of seven runs in the fourth, six runs in the sixth and another three in the seventh to go with the five they gave up in the third inning for a grand total of 22 hits and 21 runs for the A’s.
The A’s used quite a few pitchers themselves but it was not for lack of effectiveness. Edwin Jackson pitched a stellar game, allowing just two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in 5.1 innings of work. Pitching into the sixth inning is pretty much all the A’s are asking for from any of their starters and holding the opposition to just two runs and collecting seven K’s is having a very good day. He even struck out the side in the fifth inning. Jackson was replaced by Emilio Pagan in the sixth, J.B. Wendelken pitched a scoreless seventh, Dean Kiekhefer allowed a hit in the eighth but didn’t allow any runs and Chris Hatcher then came in to pitch the ninth inning.
Hatcher only allowed one hit in the ninth inning but it was to Angels’ catcher/reliever Francisco Arcia, who had just allowed homers to Martini and Pinder in the bottom of the seventh inning, and it wasn’t just any hit. Arcia hit a solo shot off of Hatcher. With that home run the now obviously very versatile Arcia became the first player in history to pitch, catch and hit a home run in the same game. You have to admit that is pretty crazy, right?! I definitely think so and I think it’s worth a watch (even if the video, courtesy of MLB and YouTube, is a bit long ...).
And in the end:
So to attempt to briefly recap what was an extraordinarily action filled day, every member of the A’s starting lineup got at least one RBI Thursday afternoon. Two more of their defensive replacements also added to their RBI totals. The team’s three home runs came off the bats of Piscotty, Pinder and Martini whose two-run shot was the very first of his big league career. Besides Martini’s first career long ball, the other two most notable performances came from Piscotty and Semien. In the last 24 hours Piscotty now has a total of 9 RBI (four coming this afternoon) and Semien had five RBI on the day. Every member of the A’s, including the pitching staff was impressive, and to answer MLB’s twitter meme (seen above) — yes, we were certainly entertained!
The A’s magic number is now down to just four with nine games left to play. They gained a half game on the idle Astros in the race for the AL West and a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card race, as the Bronx Bombers fell to the Red Sox on Thursday by the score of 11-6. Even the surging Tampa Bay Rays lost to Toronto, putting them now six and a half games back of Oakland, making it much less likely for them to be able to catch the A’s for the second Wild Card. So things are looking good for the A’s after the conclusion of all of Thursday’s games. Now they look to take on the Minnesota Twins this weekend in the final three home games of the regular season.