Call it Pound Town. Call it muscle mania. Call it a hit parade. But whatever you call it, David Price is going to take a good long shower and try to avoid thinking about how his special K performance slipped away, dominated collectively by the A’s squad and supported by Aaron Brooks’ excellent outing, notching his first win of the season.
It’s hard to know where to begin. Aaron Brooks came out looking like he’s been in the rotation since 2014. In the first inning he retired the side on 11 pitches with 2 strikeouts. In the second he had a bit of a hiccup when he gave up two hits, a double to Xander Bogaerts who almost made it home on the next single by Mitch Moreland. And you just have to see it to believe it. An old-school “gun show” from Ramon Laureano, or as Dallas Braden calls him: Laser. A short shot into right center was fielded and hurled home by Laureano.
While the Red Sox appealed the play, it was upheld for out number 2 in the second. The only Red Sox challenge of the evening was cut down.
The A’s, on the other hand, started banging on the Red Sox defense’s door in the second inning when Khris Davis, in his first at-bat, hit homerun #5 over the center field wall. Ramon Laureano decided to follow in his footsteps and in his first at-bat in the third and went yard over the same center field wall, besting Davis’ 411 foot shot with his own 428 footer. Oh but the homeruns didn’t stop there. In the 6th with Mark Canha on first after a walk, Chad Pinder hit a two-run shot to left center that received a “it’s ambush time again” from Ray Fosse. And yet still there is more. In the 8th, Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree gave up a solo homer to Matt Chapman who took it over the popular center field wall.
Chapman’s homer led off the 8th and was followed by hits from Piscotty, Morales (RBI) and Pinder (RBI). One of the runs was scored by Khris Davis when he got on via an error by third-baseman Rafael Devers, advancing Piscotty who scored on Kendrys Morales’ hit; Davis scored on Pinder’s hit. In total, the A’s scored their 7 runs on 9 hits and made no errors. The Red Sox, while they were able to pepper out 4 hits, could not convert, thanks in large part to Ramon Laureano.
Price gave up homeruns to Davis, Laureano, and Pinder as well as two other hits: A double to Marcus Semien in the third and a single to Jurickson Profar who went the opposite way to get on in the 4th. In an example of feast or famine, Price racked up 9 strikeouts, gave up 5 hits, and walked two (Canha both times). The other four A’s hits were assigned to Hembree.
Brooks was steady and consistent. It started with throwing first-pitch strikes to 13 of 19 batters. Red Sox contact was mostly fly balls and 6 strikeouts, a testament to his placement and mix of pitches and location. Brooks also demonstrated his defense when he nabbed a shot from Eduardo Nunes in the 5th to execute a double play, throwing to Semien at second who through to Canha at first for the second out. In 6 innings, Brooks gave up only two hits, striking out 6 and walking one.
Brooks was followed by a relief arsenal that experimented with Ryan Buchter leading off the 7th and retiring two batters (unassisted grounder to first and a strikeout). Buchter was followed by Liam Hendriks who gave up two hits, one to J.D. Martinez and the second to Xander Bogaerts who battled back from being behind in the count. He was able to exit the inning with a high pop up to Profar at second. J.B. Wedelken came in to demonstrate why he should be moving up in the bullpen, striking out two of the three batters he faced. And, though no save was possible this evening, Fernando Rodney came in and struck out two and walked one, ending the inning after four batters.
All in all, this was an exciting game that demonstrates many reasons why A’s fans should be excited and why the other teams in the West should be paying attention. A different bullpen arsenal than the already-successful weekend one found their own success; all five starters had excellent first outings; Khris Davis has five knocks in just seven days; a variety of batters had hits and homeruns; and, while early in the season, the current flexibility in both lineup and defense is exciting. All of this bodes well for a strong 2019!