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Game #6: Montas Makes a Statement

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Click Here to Revisit Game Thread #1

Click Here to Revisit Game Thread #2

In this Sunday matinee, each starting pitcher had something to prove. Frankie Montas had to prove that he deserved a permanent spot in the starting rotation and prove that he is capable of performing like the top of the rotation starter he was projected to be. Tyler Skaggs needed to prove that he is fully healthy and prove that he hasn’t taken any steps back after several different rehabs.

Unfortunately for Montas, things got off to a rough start. He fell behind leadoff man Kole Calhoun 3-1 before giving up a double over Chad Pinder’s head, and then he hit Mike Trout on the elbow just a few pitches later. Fortunately, after putting the first two runners on, Montas settled in, using his new splitter to induce a weakly-hit 4-6-3 double play, followed by a strikeout, neutralizing the Angels’ threat.

Things remained quiet until the bottom of the third. Tyler Skaggs cruised through the first two frames without allowing a baserunner, and had retired the first two batters of the third inning before allowing a single to Nick Hundley. Marcus Semien, who has excellent career numbers against Skaggs, recorded a single of his own, and Matt Chapman walked on four consecutive balls that never threatened the strike zone. In a near identical situation as yesterday’s game, with the bases loaded and two outs, Stephen Piscotty came to the plate. Unfortunately, unlike yesterday, he flied to right to end the A’s threat and the game remained tied at zero, a disappointing end to an exciting inning.

The disappointment didn’t last for long, however, as Khrush Davis led off the bottom of the fourth inning with his fourth blast of the year, giving the A’s a 1-0 lead. Skaggs attempted to challenge Davis with a mid-90s fastball, but Davis won the challenge and deposited the ball deep into the left center field seats. The team chased Skaggs and added another run in the fifth after Marcus Semien hit a two out double, and was then singled home on a soft fly ball to left field off the bat of Chapman.

In between all of the A’s scoring, Frankie Montas was nearly perfect. His fastball was reaching the upper 90s with ease, and he was able to locate his offspeed pitches very well, keeping batters off balance and causing some very ugly swings. After his first-two-batters hiccup in the first inning, no Angel reached base again until there were two outs in the sixth, helping to keep his pitch count down. In previous seasons, Montas struggled to strike batters out despite possessing the velocity he has, but today he managed to notch six K’s in six innings. The only blemish on his record today was a solo home run off the bat of Calhoun with two away in the sixth inning. No Angel besides Calhoun got a hit off of Montas in today’s game, until Justin Bour ended Montas’ night with a double to start the seventh.

The home run Montas allowed was the first run that a starting pitcher gave up all series for the A’s. It was also the only run the Angels scored today.

After a shaky couple of games, the A’s bullpen did its job today. Once again, Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, and Blake Treinen were used to shut down the Angels offense, and the Angels couldn’t ever manage to scratch across the tying run. Lou Trivino, in particular, did a wonderful job of inheriting a runner at second with nobody out and escaping the inning without the runner reaching third.

With the win today, the A’s are now up to a .500 record, and get set to take on the Boston Red Sox, who have fallen flat in their first set against Seattle. In what should be an exciting series, the A’s have a chance to beat up the former world series champs and never see .500 until opening day next year.