The A’s were desperate for a win and just as desperate for a great outing from a rotation member, and like Batman, Chris Bassitt responded to the projection of Stomper in the clouds above the Coliseum on Monday night. The night opened with ... Barry Zito! Talking about conserving energy, the beauty of California and other Zito-y subjects, capped off by singing a electricity-free, a cappella version of the National Anthem with the fans.
Taking the mound after Barry Zito nowadays isn’t the same as it was about fifteen years ago when Zito was actually still pitching, but Bassitt took on the role admirably in his first mound appearance back. Despite tossing 93 pitches in only five innings, Bassit kept his cool. He struck out seven and held the Rangers scoreless before passing the baton to Ryan Dull for the sixth. The A’s ended up wining 6-1 in Bassitt’s return, the only run of the game being given up by Dull.
It’s hard to stick out when you make your trip up to the majors with guys like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman — especially if your name isn’t also Matt. Chad Pinder has stuck around for a reason. He’s the kind of guy that can come off the bench and take on whatever role you plop on the table in front of him. He’s great at it. He’s the sort of guy you want on your team, however those guys don’t get the sort of attention your everyday stars do.
Give him that chance, though, and just like any other spot he’s plopped into, Pinder grabs his challenge by the horns.
In the final game of the three-game home set against the Rangers, the score was knotted at five apiece headed into the bottom of the ninth. With Pinder at the plate, Rangers reliever Chris Martin offered up a 1-1 slider. Pinder smashed the pitch into shallow center, driving in Piscotty for the winning run and locking down the sweep.
Ah, but Pinder was not done yet! Sometimes, when you want the spotlight, you have to steal it from someone else.
Fast forward to Friday night, Vlad Guerrero Jr. made his much-anticipated MLB debut with the Blue Jays against Mike Fiers and the A’s. After grounding out in his first AB, Vlad Jr. was hungry for a hit. Ahead in a 3-1 count, Vlad Jr. slugged Fiers’ next pitch high to right, the crowd going nuts. Had Junior just grabbed his first Major League homer in his first game up?!
Chad Pinder, leaping like a marionette, snagged the ball off the top of the wall and robbed Vlad Jr. of his home run glory. No storybook ending for the Blue Jays there! (Though Toronto did end up winning on a walk-off, after none other than Pinder came inches away from a go-ahead homer of his own in the top of the ninth.)
Matt Olson is on his way back to the lineup. Fresh off of surgery on his right hand, Olson has progressed on to batting practice on Friday, and is ready to take on his next rehab assignment. May is right around the corner, and so is Oly’s return to the plate!
Marco Estrada doesn’t look as hopeful. He was eligible to return this weekend, however, after his baseball-free probation was up, Estrada was still experiencing back pain. He has been fighting similar problems since 2016, but Melvin trusts Estrada to know when he’s healthy enough to come back and perform at the high level he’s capable of.
There is no way that Ramon Laureano’s arm is made out of real human arm. He has to have been brought to us from another dimension or planet where arms are actually slingshots or maybe where gravity doesn’t effect things he touches. Laureano made two more insane plays this week, one almost catching a guy at home, the other robbing a home run and turning into the most bizarre of double plays. When Laureano is on the field, the laws of physics sort of just ... give up.
If the pressure to perform wasn’t bearing down on Bassitt enough on Monday, today is going to be the kicker. Bassitt is taking the mound in the Rogers Center on Sunday (10:07 a.m. start back here), trying to keep the Jays from sweeping us again before we take on a three game set against the Red Sox in Boston. The Red Sox aren’t doing great this year (11-16 with a winless Chris Sale), but let’s not give them a reason to change that. Flying in with a W instead of an open wound will feel better as we climb our way back up and over .500, and with the Bassitt signal in the sky, nothing will stop our climb to the top!
Or should I say ... BASSET signal!