The Oakland A’s played their second exhibition game against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, and this one ended in a 6-6 tie. The game, which took place Sunday night for those on Pacific Time, was salvaged at the last moment by a Khris Davis homer.
The A’s actually trailed for much of this one. They took an early lead on a Stephen Piscotty homer in the 2nd, but a pair of errors by shortstop Marcus Semien led to runs for the Fighters in both the 3rd and 5th. The Fighters kept adding on from there, with a pair in the 6th off some small-ball, and another pair in the 7th on a rally started by an error from backup shortstop Cliff Pennington. Entering the 9th, the A’s trailed 6-2.
But then, in their final ups, Oakland showed exactly the kind of comeback fire we got used to seeing last summer. A single by Ramon Laureano, a HBP for Josh Phegley, and a productive flyout put runners on the corners. A wild pitch scored Laureano to make it 6-3, and then Mark Canha walked to set up the best home run hitter in the sport, down to the team’s final out.
The three-run dinger tied it up, and the Fighters were unable to answer back in the bottom half. With the nature of the exhibition game, there were no extra innings in this one.
On the pitching side, Brett Anderson threw five innings and allowed just the two unearned runs caused by Semien’s errors, for a final line of 5 ip, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits. Chris Bassitt allowed the rest of the scoring, but with some context that we’ll get to in a moment. Ryan Dull and J.B. Wendelken wrapped up the final three frames with only one hit allowed between them. Dull entered mid-7th to relieve Bassitt with the bases loaded and nobody out, and he escaped the jam on five pitches — with some help from LF Robbie Grossman, who threw out a runner at home on a sac fly attempt.
Bassitt had a scary moment in the 6th when he was hit in the leg by a liner. He turned out OK, though, and that consideration was more important than the fact that he subsequently gave up runs. The two he allowed in the 6th came immediately after getting nailed, and the two in the 7th were set up by Pennington’s error, and through it all Bassitt allowed just one extra-base hit, so I’m not worrying about this one. Here’s Susan Slusser with an eyewitness account.
Bassitt nailed by a line drive and goes down hard. Trainers out quickly.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 18, 2019
Looks like they're looking at Bassitt's right knee. He's walking around and will take some warmup pitches.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 18, 2019
Bassitt stayed in, btw. I was distracted by @BrownieAthletic nearly getting nailed by a foul ball.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 18, 2019
.@BrownieAthletic has the foul ball, but sadly it's an MLB ball. A Japanese ball would be much cooler.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 18, 2019
Chris Bassitt said he lucked out with where that liner hit him, the side of his right knee; he says had it hit straight on, he'd have a blown-out kneecap.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 18, 2019
Here’s a look at the 7th-inning stretch.
And two more recaps from the folks who were there:
In one final note, Matt Chapman went 2-for-2 with a walk. That means, in the two exhibitions against the Fighters, he came to the plate eight times and reached base in all eight of them, with five hits and three walks. Chaptain America!
And with that, the next game counts. The A’s play the Mariners in the Tokyo Dome, Mike Fiers against Marco Gonzales. The game begins at 2:35 a.m. here in Pacific Time, and you can watch it on ESPN.