Greetings from the Aria Sportsbook in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I watched the A’s on a life-size screen tonight in a game that the A’s won easily, jumping out to a 5-run lead early and despite Texas at one point closing the gap to three, and again to four, some nifty defense and the A’s great offense ensured that the game was never really in doubt.
Less fun was watching the Boston Red Sox lose to Houston, but as it goes, the A’s need to take care of their own games, and they sure opened the series tonight with a big statement. Meanwhile, in the game you weren’t quite sure for whom to root, the Yankees bested the Mariners to open up a 6.6 lead in the Wild Card race. As the A’s soar to 28(!!!!) games over .500, they are opening more and more ground against their nearest competitor and increasing their playoff odds. With 20 games left in the season, it’s starting to become, dare I say it?, real. Our 2018 Oakland Athletics, whom no one gave much of a glance to start the season, hold the fourth best record in baseball with merely twenty games to go.
The A’s got off the deck with their very first batter today, Ramon Laureano, whom I’d be surprised if he didn’t lead off the rest of the way. Working a 2-1 count against Yovani Gallardo, Laureano jumped all over the next pitch and started the game for the A’s 1-0.
An interesting side note: When betting on the game, the over was 9 runs. I’d like to point out that the A’s nearly reached that by themselves. Carry on!
Liam Hendriks pitched his inning before giving way to Chris Bassitt in the second. He didn’t have long to worry about run support; in the bottom of the second inning, Stephen Piscotty was hit by a pitch in front of Marcus Semien’s twelfth home run of the season. But wait! There’s more! A Chad Pinder walk (one of the rare times he wasn’t leaving runners on base), and a Lucroy single put two on with one out, and another great at-bat for Laureano loaded the bases for Matt Chapman. He singled, he did, but one of those singles that could have been a double-play, but it wasn’t; instead it scored two runs to give the A’s the early 5-0 lead.
The only trouble Bassitt saw was a two-run home run by Joey Gallo in the fourth, briefly closing the gap to 5-2. The A’s would finish this game with 8 runs, but truth be told, they should have had 12. Three consecutive walks to Olson, Piscotty and Semien loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Pinder struck out, and just for good measure, he did it again in the sixth, also with the bases loaded. Luckily, the A’s had already plated three between his appearances thanks to a lead-off sixth inning home run by Laureano, his second of the game; his fifth overall, and strangely enough, he already has two multi-home run games. An error to allow Lowrie to reach and a single by Khris Davis (now hitting .247) put two more on, and a single by Matt Olson plated the A’s seventh run; their eighth coming on the subsequent Piscotty single. Semien walked to load the bases with one out again, and once again Pinder struck out, in what was really a forgettable night for him. Luckily everyone else had a fine time at the plate.
Meanwhile, the A’s threw Hendriks (1), Bassitt (3), Petit (2), Rodney (.2), allowed a run, Buchter (.1), Familia (1), allowed a run, and Treinen (1) for the win, no save.
Chapman made another great play, Andrus made a terrific one of his own, and thwarting Texas’ best chance to come back, already having cut the score to 8-4 with runners at second and third, was Jed Lowrie, who made a leaping catch to end the eight inning and give Treinen a four-run lead, instead of two or fewer.
It was a solid win by the A’s in every way as they reach their high-water mark of the season, and with just 20 games to go until (gasp!) the playoffs, we can all enjoy these fleeting last moments of summer, heading into Fall and October baseball.
LET’S GO OAK-LAND! We’ll see you back tomorrow for the early game; 1:05 start, Edwin Jackson vs. Yohander Mendez.