The A's were in mid-season form tonight, defeating the Giants 5-1 in a terrific all-around performance.
The Swingin' A's
With lefty ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound, the A's followed a familiar pattern of running up the pitch count, forcing the starter out of the game early (yes, even earlier than the Giants intended in a Spring Training game), and feasting on the bullpen. Last year's usual suspects and a couple of new faces all got in on the action for the green and gold.
Let's talk about some of the noteworthy moments and performances from the Oakland bats tonight:
- Olson's two-bagger: Matt Olson led off the second inning against Bumgarner with a line drive double off the right field wall. He later came around to score, giving the A's a 1-0 lead. While Olson had a similar average against righties and lefties in 2018, he had just four of his 29 HRs and ten of his 33 2Bs came against southpaws. The A's will look for Olson to improve his slugging against lefties this year.
- Chapman gets back to game speed: After getting a late start to Spring Training due to injury, Matt Chapman looked a little out of sorts in his first couple games, striking out five times in nine at-bats. Tonight, he tallied two hits, including a monster opposite field home run off of Mark Melancon.
- Extra base knocks from the bottom of the order: Okay, Marcus Semien hit fifth tonight, but since Khris Davis will eventually bump him down a slot in the order, we're including him with the bottom-of-the-order guys. Semien, Ramón Laureano, and Nick Hundley combined for three 2Bs, a 3B, and a HR, driving in three of the A's five runs. A fourth RBI came on an RBI single by Jurickson Profar, who hit seventh. This group of guys could make the A's terrifying on offense by punishing pitchers lucky enough to get past Chapman-Piscotty-Davis-Olson without giving up damage.
The Quiet Giants
Frankie Montas dazzled on the mound (again), and the bullpen followed him up nicely to keep the Giants' offense quiet.
Let's get into some specifics:
- Montas shows flashes of brilliance: Montas was solid through four innings, allowing just one run and striking out four while walking none. At times, he looked absolutely brilliant--like in the second inning when he struck out the side. He finished off all three hitters with the splitter, including a quick pitch to Evan Longoria that was on him before he could even think about swinging. Longoria later commented: "You shouldn't be allowed to quick pitch in Spring Training." While he chuckled after, the salt was evident.
- Bullpen turns in a clean scorecard: Lou Trivino, Aaron Brooks, and Liam Hendriks pitched the last five frames, keeping the Giants from scraping any more runs across. Trivino was dominant as he has been all spring. Brooks gave up a handful of hits in his three innings of work, but got out of trouble by striking out four.
- The opener closes: Liam Hendriks, likely to spend a lot of time "opening" for the A's again this year, came in to shut the door on the Giants, sitting them down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
The A's should be thrilled with the way they performed in a game that resembled a regular season match-up. The young pitchers for Oakland continue to perform, and the bullpen looks to be an advantage for the A's again this year. Meanwhile, offensively, hard-hit balls from all over the lineup should breed confidence in the clubhouse.