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Game #5: Canha homers, A’s hang on to beat Angels 4-2

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The A’s rotation continued its roll on Saturday night, as number three starter Brett Anderson threw six scoreless innings to lead Oakland to their second win. For the second consecutive night the bullpen looked shaky, but this time they kept it together and secured the victory.

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Anderson had a strong first start of the season. While he looked shaky in his first few innings, he settled down quickly and managed to silence the Angels’ lineup. Over his six scoreless innings, he allowed just four hits and two walks, striking out four.

Los Angeles starter Félix Peña’s outing didn’t go quite as well. In the early goings, he looked sharp, retiring the first eight batters he faced. While his velocity was noticeably down, Peña made up for it with impressive command and movement, his splitter looking especially unhittable.

But his success didn’t last. Oakland opened up the scoring with a two-out rally in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back singles by nine-hitter Josh Phegley and Robbie Grossman and Matt Chapman’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Stephen Piscotty. The right fielder came through with a two-run single to center field.

Mark Canha, getting the start in center for the struggling Ramón Laureano, padded the lead the next inning. Recent trade acquisition Kendrys Morales led off the inning with a walk, and two outs later Canha stepped to the plate. He crushed a middle-middle fastball to straightaway left, unleashing a monstrous bat flip as he trotted toward first.

For the second consecutive night, Oakland’s sharp bullpen struggled to hold the lead. J.B. Wendelken threw a scoreless seventh and manager Bob Melvin tried to stretch his righty through a second frame. The leadoff man reached on an error by second baseman Jurickson Profar, and the following double left two in scoring position for Mike Trout. Luckily, all the superstar could manage was a sacrifice fly to right field, but shortstop Andrelton Simmons followed with an RBI single to cut the A’s lead in half.

Melvin refused to make the same mistake he had the night before and turned to his top gun, closer Blake Treinen. A passed ball and a single put runners at the corner with one away for first baseman Justin Bour. Luckily, Treinen settled down, striking out Bour and getting Jonathan Lucroy to pop up to end the threat.

Oakland couldn’t manage any insurance in the bottom of the eighth, sending Treinen back out to the mound to defend a two-run lead. He did so with ease, retiring the side in order to earn his first save of 2019.

The season has not gone as expected so far for the A’s. Entering the year, their bullpen was poised to be the team’s biggest strength while the rotation looked like an issue. But in their first three games stateside, Oakland’s starting pitching has carried the team while their relief corp has shown cracks. Treinen will likely be unavailable for Sunday’s game, so the rest of the ‘pen will need to step up.

Canha’s clutch home run showcased another of the A’s strengths - their depth. He, along with utility man Chad Pinder, would start on most teams. But the two are instead valuable part-timers on this Oakland roster. They will both continue to get plenty of at-bats in the absence of regular first baseman Matt Olson.

The win brought the A’s record to 2-3 and secured a series split. They will look to take the series behind righty Frankie Montas on Sunday at 1:07 P.M. PST.