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Game #25: A’s Bats and Defense Defeat the Rangers

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics
Apr 22, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Stephen Piscotty (25) celebrates with shortstop Jurickson Profar (23) after hitting a solo home run against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at the Oakland Coliseum.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

All the pieces came together for the A’s this evening as pitching held the hot Ranger bats to one run. With a number of key defensive plays as well as a home run, a couple of doubles, a few walks and sacrifice flies—the A’s ended their losing streak with a 6-1 victory.

Thread conversations can be found here:

*** Game Thread #1 | Game Thread #2 ***

Pitching:

Pitching has been a struggle of late, especially for the A’s bullpen who utilized over 200 pitches in the last two games. In his 31st big-league start, Chris Bassitt looked like he was going to further tax the bullpen. Bassitt struggled with his pitching location in the first couple of innings. While he mixed his pitches well, his curve looked more in control of Bassitt than the other way around; it was often way up and way out in the first two innings.

Bassitt also worked his catcher, Josh Phegley, who blocked six pitches in the dirt throughout the game. Eventually Bassitt settled down and was the beneficiary of strong fielding and offensive support. This photo pretty much sums up the relief and joy of getting through five innings unscathed thanks, in large part, to your defense!

Bassitt’s total pitches for the first inning numbered 20. Bassitt gave up a leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo who went the opposite way to start the game. With one out, Bassitt then nailed Elvis Andrus in the hand to put runners on first and second. Nomar Mazara hit into a double play that was deftly handled by Profar, snapping the ball to Semien who quickly relayed it to Canha for the out at first. Andrus stayed in the game but after striking out in the third and the 5th, he eventually left the game due to the hand injury.

In the second inning, Bassitt gave up his first of 4 total walks to Joey Gallo. Bassitt balanced this walk with his second strikeout by sitting down Asdrubal Cabrera. In total, Bassitt racked up 7 strikeouts. Help from Profar with an amazing diving catch for the second out kept Gallo planted on the bag at first. Well, until Bassitt walked Mathis. DeShields grounded out to Profar who fielded a little hopper and threw it to Canha for the third out. Total pitches for the two innings sat at 52 with 31 of them being strikes.

The third and fourth innings were strong for Bassitt. He struck out Shin-Soo Choo. Danny Valencia then grounded out to second base where Profar easily threw him out at first. Elvis Andrus then went down looking for strikeout #4. Despite walking his third batter, the fourth inning followed a similar pattern for Bassitt as he ended the inning with strikeout #5 to Logan Forsythe.

Similar strong pitching was performed by Ryan Dull, J.B. Wendelken, Joakim Soria and Fernando Rodney. Ryan Dull, just brought up from AAA Vegas, entered in the 6th and began by getting Nomar Mazara to line out to Piscotty in right. Joey Gallo, receiving two free passes by Bassitt, didn’t get the same treatment from Dull who struck Gallo out swinging. After giving up a hit to Asdrubal Cabrera, Dull proceeded to dish Logan Forsythe his second strikeout with an excellent slider that had Forsythe fanning the warm night air. With one out in the 7th, Dull was replaced with J.B. Wendelken after giving singles to Mathis and Choo. Nonetheless, it was a solid outing for Dull which bodes well for the A’s.

Inheriting two runners on base, Wendelken did give up a run in the 7th when the first batter he faced, Danny Santana, hit a sacrifice fly to Laureano in the left center gap, a ball Laureano almost caught. He then gave up a double to pinch hitter Patrick Wisdom who replaced Andrus. Wendelken got himself out of trouble, however, with a putout, throwing to first after fielding a dribbly roller by Mazara that left two runners stranded.

After Joakim Soria retired the side in the 8th and picked up two strikeouts, Fernando Rodney made his 907th appearance, passing Cy Young on the all-time appearance list. Rodney dispatched the Rangers by striking out Jeff Mathis for the first out. While he walked Delino DeShields, Rodney quickly came back as the A’s players mounted the dugout steps, waiting in anticipation. Choo sent a fly ball to Pinder in left and Rodney then struck out Santana to end the game.

Hitting:

The A’s first run the board tonight was a deep shot to center field by Stephen Piscotty.

In the third, Oakland bats continued to do damage. Phegley doubled and moved to third on a liner over Andrus’ head by Mark Canha. Matt Chapman then picked up his 16th RBI with a sacrifice fly deep enough to right field to score Phegley. A’s ahead 2-0 on three hits.

In the sixth, Pinder and Piscotty both picked up RBI’s to give the bullpen some breathing room with a 4-1 lead. With one out, Chapman and Davis both walked. Pinder then doubled on a ground ball to left field to score Chapman and advance Davis to third.

Piscotty then hit an amazing sacrifice fly to center field and, had it not been for an amazing catch by Delino Deshields, more runs would have scored:

In the 8th, the A’s were merciless, picking up two runs on three hits. Piscotty just wasn’t done for the night. Having hit a home run in the second and a sacrifice fly for an RBI in the 6th, he finished his last at bat with a 2RBI single that scored Davis and Pinder to put the A’s up 6-1, the final score on the night.

Top three bats:

  • Chapman was 1-1 with a 113mph screamer in the 8th. His other at-bats included two walks, a sacrifice fly and RBI.
  • Chad Pinder was 2-4 with a double, single and an RBI;
  • Stephen Piscotty was 2-3 with a sacrifice fly. In total he picked up 3 RBIs;

Defense:

Jurickson Profar had an outstanding defensive game. His defense began with a double play grounder fielded cleanly and whipped to Semien at second who threw to Canha for the third out of the inning. In the second inning, Profar made an outstanding diving play to his left to send Logan Forsythe back to the dugout denied. In the third, Profar then gave Bassitt another diving catch to pop up throwout Santana at first:

Other strong defensive plays included Laureano (shocker) who stretched out and almost robbed Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth with a tailing flair that he grabbed with his throwing hand and body to smother it and hold Cabrera to a single.

So, a collective win that combined all the game pieces for the win. Great defense, strong pitching despite a bit of a rocky start, manufactured runs with lots of variety to put in the ‘ol scorebook. Add to this some great managing by Melvin whose timing for calling to the bullpen was flawless.

The A’s will look for another win tomorrow as expected starter Frankie Montas (3-1, 2.70 ERA) looks to continue the domination on the mound. Mark Canha, who went 1-4 tonight, may give way to Kendrys Morales as the A’s face right hander Lance Lynn. Game time 7:07 on free-parking Tuesday.