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Game #50: Long Balls And Long At-Bats Put The Athletics On Top

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams were very patient tonight, as the batters took their time and saw more than their fair share of pitches. Up until the late innings of the game pitchers were throwing into lots of full counts, and both teams handed out a combined 11 walks. The A’s were able to keep the long ball going as Canha and Profar went deep.

*** Revisit Game Thread 1 | Game Thread 2 | ***

Here are some predictions I made before the game. How good was my precognition? Not great, as I ended up 0-for-5.

  1. The A’s will hit at least 3 home runs, with one from Khris Davis - While there were 2 A’s homers, none were from Khrush as he left the game after his first AB.
  2. Trevor Bauer will not pitch past the 5th inning. - Bauer ended up pitching through the 6th, and it may have been his strongest inning even though it was done entirely past the 100 pitch mark.
  3. Blake Treinen will not be used in this game. - We saw Blake warming up in the top of the 9th, and lo and behold he was out to close the game.
  4. Chris Bassitt will throw 2 curveballs below 70mph. - Bassitt bottomed out at 70 on the nose for his slowest curve, but didn’t dip into the 60’s.
  5. Francisco Lindor will be shown smiling on camera at least 4 times. - The only big smile I saw was after his leadoff homer. (I’m pretty sure Profar’s smile after his solo jack was bigger)

The top of the 1st went by without much note, the A’s went down 1-2-3, including a Chapman strikeout.

Francisco Lindor started things off for Cleveland with a bang, as he hit a 416 foot dinger to right centre field. But Chris Bassitt came back with a solid strikeout of Jason Kipnis. The bottom of the first continued to give Bassitt some trouble, as 2 5-pitch walks put runners on, followed by a ball in the dirt that bounced at Jose Ramirez’s foot. Ramirez claimed the pitch bounced off his foot, and walked to first. But after a full discussion between the umpires and a replay review, the pitch was ruled a ball and the at bat continued. The exchange proved to be fruitless, as after another 6 pitches, Ramirez was on first with a walk, and the bases were loaded. With the pressure on, Bassitt caught Jake Bauers swinging on a 3 pitch strikeout, then got Roberto Perez to ground out to Semien to get out of the bases loaded situation.

Trevor Bauer had some similar issues in the top of the 2nd, as he walked Stephen Piscotty, and hit Jurickson Profar in the foot with a pitch, and Ramon Laureano worked an 0-2 count into a walk to load the bases. Troubles continued for Bauer, as he tied the game for the A’s by handing Josh Phegley a 4 pitch walk. While the A’s didn’t hit a home run like Cleveland, the inning ended up being very similar to the bottom of the 1st, as Semien grounded out to Lindor to end the inning with the bases loaded. But importantly, the A’s managed to score a run before getting their first hit of the game. Bassitt pitched an easier inning in the 2nd, sitting the Cleveland batters down 1-2-3 in only 10 pitches.

Matt Chapman continued to make Bauer work in the 3rd, getting to a full count before having an extra base hit robbed by a great catch in right field from Oscar Mercado. Matt Olson popped the ball over top of Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis for the A’s first hit. During his fist at-bat in the 2nd, Khris Davis was pretty noticeably still in pain, and as such Mark Canha was put in at DH in the 3rd. This ended well for the A’s as Canha ripped a high fastball to the right field seats for his 6th dinger of the year. Piscotty flexed his patience, working a 10 pitch at bat, only ending up out because of a long fly ball to left field caught on a slide. Profar was hit in the foot again to give the A’s another baserunner, but the top of the inning ended with quick catch by Carlos Santana from a Grossman liner. Bauer left the inning with 75 pitches, only around half being thrown for strikes.

Bassitt started his half of the inning off well, striking out Kipnis again, but Carlos Santana hit a smooth home run out to centre field on the first pitch to bring Cleveland within 1 run. Carlos Gonzales struck out swinging on a low curveball, but Jose Ramirez watched 4 fastballs low in the zone get called for balls to take a walk. The baserunner did not end up being much of a worry as Bauers grounded out to first base to end the inning.

After 2 fly outs, Marcus Semien hit a deep liner to left field to get on base with a double, Matt Chapman earned RBI 28 with a double of his own to drive in Semien. Olson flied out to end the A’s half of the 4th.

Bassitt’s 4th inning began with a Perez strikeout, but then Leonis Martin worked The Hound for an 11 pitch walk. Mercado then lasered a line drive down the left field line to score Martin. Bassitt struck out Lindor, but couldn’t retire Kipnis for the 3rd time, and ended up walking him on 6 pitches. This was the last batter faced for Bassitt, as he was removed after 3.2 in favour of Liam Hendricks. Hendricks ended the 4th with a swinging Santana strikeout.

Chris Bassitt is officially on Blister-Watch, as there was a mound meeting in the 3rd to check on his finger, he stayed in the game until the 4th, and was removed because of baserunners and performance, not for injury. This was Bassitt’s shortest start of the season, but he worked well to get out of a lot of sticky situations. He, similar to Bauer, just let batters see way too many pitches and let his innings go on a batter or two too long.

Bauer came out to pitch the 5th and he threw 2 full counts in a row, Canha hit a pop up for an out, and Piscotty struck out after 8 pitches. Jurickson Profar took a 4 pitch walk, and while Profar made it to second base on Grossman’s ground ball, Kipnis was able to pass it off in time to Santana to catch Grossman with the force and keep the A’s down for the inning.

Hendricks ended up in a similar situation as the starters, getting batters into deep counts. The first two Cleveland batters were retired on balls in the air, but Jake Bauers managed a single to left centre. Stephen Piscotty seemed determined to end the inning as he raced into foul territory, bending over the railing to catch a pop fly in the stands.

Bauer came out for the 6th with 109 pitches. It took 4 pitches to strike out Laureano, and only 1 to plunk Josh Phegley. Bauer struck out Semien on 4 pitches, and Chapman with 5 to make for a quick top of the 6th.

Entering his third inning, Hendricks was back up for the bottom of the 6th, getting two outs before being removed to bring in Ryan Buchter. Hendricks ended with 2.0 pitched, no runs allowed, and only 1 hit. Buchter faced the switch hitting Lindor, and while Francisco was hitting righty, it only took 2 pitches to get a infield grounder to end the 6th, as Matt Olson made a fantastic catch.

Adam Cimber, the submariner, came out for the 7th.After an Olson fly out, Mark Canha hit a bouncing single through the gap, but Piscotty grounded out to Lindor for a double play. The game kept rolling along as Buchter stayed in, working Kipnis for a line out, but then walking Santana. As Terry Francona put in a righty pinch hitter Buchter’s game was done and Bob Melvin called for Joakim Soria. The pinch hitting Luplow grounded into a classic 5-4-3 double play, and the game progressed into the 8th.

Jurickson Profar continued his recent offensive stretch, leading off the 8th inning with a solo homer to right field. Ramon Laureano hit the first pitch he saw for a double that bounced off the left field wall, and kicked Cimber out of the game.

Nick Writtgren was called on in relief to continue the 8th and struck out Josh Phegley, before Marcus Semien grounded into the force out at first base. Soria worked the 8th amazingly, getting 3 outs in 8 pitches.

Writtgren pitched a quick 1-2-3 top of the 9th, including Chapman’s second strikeout of the game. With the A’s up by 2 runs, Bob Melvin called on Blake Treinen to end the game. After a few pitches, Martin flew out. Blake caught Mercato swinging for a strike out, and all that was left for Cleveland was Francisco Lindor. Treinen caught Lindor swinging to end the game easily, earning his 9th save of the season.

While there were no major rallies for either side, the A’s were able to take their second win of the series. The A’s bullpen threw a great game keeping Cleveland off the board from the 5th inning onward, Joakim Soria was lights out, getting 5 outs on 11 pitches, and Blake Treinen was his usual self to earn another save.

With this win the A’s move 1 game back of .500, sit in second place in the AL West, and are still 8.5 games behind the Astros. The A’s play their last game against Cleveland for the season tomorrow, as Frankie Montas will lead the Athletics as they look for a series sweep.