This spring training walk-off win felt a little anti-climactic. The Giants tied the game 4-4 with two runs in the top of the 8th (more on this later), but at this point it was mostly the A's recent draft picks playing along with Pinder, Canha, and Beau Taylor. In the bottom of the ninth, the A's strung together three straight hits, the third being Canha's walk off. It was less of a hit and more of a fly ball that was deep enough to not merit a play at the plate, but it was a good enough piece of situational hitting to guarantee the win.
As always in spring training, the process matters a bit more than the results (though we can still celebrate that the result is a win over the Giants), so I'll try and highlight a few things that I picked up on this game, and talk about that one pitching prospect we're all excited about.
Luzardo Bailed out in the First
Luzardo came out and walked the first batter, Cameron Maybin. To Luzardo's credit, the last two balls were close, but this did not seem to me like the umpire was squeezing him. The next batter singled into center, leaving him with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Sandoval then struck out swinging getting Luzardo his first out. Aramis Garcia singled in the next at bat, driving in Maybin but was thrown out on the bases for a double play when the next hitter, Mac Williamson, flew out to Piscotty in right. If the third out wasn't gifted to Jesus, this could have been a long inning as batters were making solid contact against him.
Jesus Luzardo Settles In
After being bailed out in the first, Luzardo retired the next six batters in order. He struck out two and was on the receiving end of a nice glove flip by Matt Olson to end the third. It was good to see him perform the defensive fundamentals of covering first, else Olson's nifty play could have gone to waste.
Luzardo gave up two singles in the fourth inning along with racking up two more strike outs for a total of five in his four innings pitched. Overall, the his line was solid, only conceding one run. He gave up a walk and four singles in 4 innings while striking out five.
My take on getting to see him pitch for the first time other than the Minor League All Star Game is that I think all the stuff is there for him to be the top of the rotation pitcher our team was missing last year. He pitches with both power and precision. I don't think I saw him missing targets by much after the first batter. When hitters get behind, they are likely going to strike out.
This is coming in an extremely small sample size, but Luzardo seemed to throw hittable pitches up in the zone and far too much of it stayed in the middle of the plate. I would have liked to see Luzardo pitch against the White Sox's real line up instead of the Giant's AAA line up, but I'll take getting to see the game on TV. It would also be nice to get some Statcast data on his pitches.
Back to the Rest of the Game
The A's scored a pair in the second inning to take the lead. The first run came in on the first of Pinder's two doubles as Piscotty drew a lead off walk. Pinder scored on a Hundley single two batters later. If Hundley can hit, the catcher position might not be a huge hole in the line up despite Herrmann's injury.
In the fifth, two A's doubles by Canha and Semien lead to two runs, pushing the A's lead up to 4-1. Semien was the key in this little rally as his RBI double was just a few feet short of a home run. He took off and stole third base, putting himself in position for a Matt Olson sac fly. Semien was probably 45% of the way to third before the ball was out of the pitcher's hand. Before Olson's sac fly, Matt Chapman battled his way to first base in a long at bat. It would have been a bit nicer had he gotten a walk instead of taking a 97 mph fastball to the elbow/triceps.
The bullpen took over and scattered a few hits, but gave up three runs which tied up the game. Soria gave up some solid contact in the 5th, but Pinder made a good diving play in left field. In the sixth, Treinen gave up a looooong solo shot on a pitch that could have best been described as a batting practice pitch right down the middle. Also in his inning, Treinen gave up a triple. Canha was positioned towards right field and had a relatively long run, but this triple could have been an out had Canha been playing straight up.
Petit gave up two runs in the eighth inning in an inning, but my biggest take away was a big reminder that Matt Chapman is absolutely amazing at third base. Edwin Diaz had replaced Chapman at this point in the game and had three opportunities to make difficult plays at the hot corner. Two ground balls/choppers ended up going for doubles past Diaz despite truly good efforts. A dribbler infield single was almost barehanded by Diaz. I don't know for certain that Matt Chapman would have made any of the plays and it is not like any of these plays were errors on Diaz's part, but I do believe Matt Chapman might have been able to save a run or two had he still been in the game.
The eighth and ninth innings showcased a lot of recent draftees. Deichman hit and ran well with his double in the eighth. He followed that up with a nice catch in foul territory in the ninth. He was running hard and had his momentum carry him into the stands but held on to make the play.
Almost all starters were subbed out on both sides by the bottom of the 9th. Derek Law did not seem to have his best stuff and it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would give up a run. He gave up an infield single and then Pinder's second double of the game in the next at bat. Canha came up and would have likely been intentionally walked if the Giants had any intention of taking this game to extra innings. The infield and outfield played in and Canha hit what would have been a routine fly ball in any other situation to score Eierman and win the game.
Nothing like a walk-off to beat the Giants... even if it’s just Spring Training pic.twitter.com/B51n1lQ8L9— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) March 10, 2019