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Game #55: Athletics Grab 10th Straight Win Against Angels

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
May 27, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) is tagged out by Oakland Athletics second baseman Jurickson Profar (23) on a steal attempt during the seventh inning at Oakland Coliseum. 
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Batting was the key activity in today’s matchup of the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum that led to the Athletics’ 10th consecutive win, defeating the Angels 8-5. The Oakland Athletics’ scoring was a team effort as usual, and today’s charge was led by Robbie Grossman, Josh Phegley and Matt Chapman. Amidst it all, Ramon Laureano extended his hitting streak to 10 games in the third inning with a double off of Trevor Cahill. And, because of this combined effort, it was less painful when Matt Olson struck out swinging in his first two at-bats and a third time in the 7th. Chris Bassitt picked up his 3rd win of the season.

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In the second inning with one out, Ramon Laureano hit a hanging curveball for a double. Phegley, in his first at-bat, struck out swinging on a fastball up in the zone after multiple sinkers and changeups from Trevor Cahill. Semien then manufactured a walk to join Laureano on the base paths. This was an excellent at-bat where he dominated a knuckle-curve, sinker, changeup and four seam fastball as part of the pitch mix. Then came Robbie Grossman for his first of two game-changing at-bats. In this at bat, he hit a changeup for an RBI double to right field, scoring Laureano; Semien held at third. Matt Chapman ended the inning with a fly ball to center field, but this overall team effort tied the game at 1-1.

The Angels scored their first run off of Bassitt also in a team effort. In the second inning, Albert Pujols struck first blood with a base hit; Pujols then advanced on a wild pitch to Calhoun. Calhoun, always a strong hitter, then doubled down the right field line on an elevated, 3-2 fastball. Bassitt, however, recovered well and squeaked by the rest of the inning, getting Fletcher to ground out to Chapman at third who then threw to Olson at first. Bassitt then struck out Brian Goodwin, yet followed by “hitting” Dustin Garner, brushing his uniform. With two outs and runners on first and second, Luis Rengifo grounded to Jurickson Profar who lobbed it to Olson at first, the first of two lobs that had A’s fans exhaling loudly once Olson caught it. Profar’s second lob was in the fifth that had Olson reaching high over his head to complete the out. Yips or no yips, somehow this current and seemingly consistent defensive style of Profar needs to change.

Despite his nerve-wracking defense, Jurickson Profar contributed offensively and even tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Profar demonstrated his wheelhouse long ball and let the Angels know the A’s were not worried about their then Angel lead. With a two RBI shot to the left field bleachers, Profar picked up his 8th home run of the year. Also scoring with Profar was Canha who got on the bases via a Cahill walk.

Josh Phegley followed Profar’s previous inning homer with his own in the bottom of the fifth. Repeating yesterday’s hitting prowess, Phegley sent one just over the wall in left field to put the Athletics ahead 4-3. From this point onward, the A’s were always in the lead.

Robbie Grossman followed with his second double of the day (9th on the season) on a sharp liner to right field off an 82 MPH Cahill pitch. Chapman then had a splintering single that advanced Grossman to third. While that ended the day for Cahill, it didn’t end the scoring. Matt Chapman advanced to second on a ball in the dirt with good heads-up running. Then, with runners on second and third and reliever Cam Bedrosian taking the mound, Stephen Piscotty came through with a huge 2 RBI single to catapult the A’s ahead 6-3 in the 5th. Canha almost kept it going but was thrown out at first. A diving smother and pop up throw by Angels third baseman Tommy LaStella beat Canha to first for the third out of the inning.

Cahill had a strong game, mixing pitches that led to five A’s strikeouts. His knuckle-curve and sinker appeared to be effective for a large portion of the game. Mixing in a fastball in an unexpected moment to catch someone like Phegley by surprise showed a strong pitch-calling strategy by the Angels, though it was not enough. Cahill pitched four innings, gave up six hits, two home runs and 4 earned runs in total and walked two. He definitely did not look like the 2018 Cahill who pitched for the green and gold. Several relievers took the mound including Cam Bedrosian, Cody Allen, Luis Garcia, and Taylor Cole but none were able to stave off the Athletics’ bats and keep them from scoring.

This scoring by the Athletics continued in the 7th inning. Marcus Semien lined out to second baseman Luis Rengifo and was followed by a Grossman pop up to shortstop David Fletcher. Then, Matt Chapman stepped into the batter’s box. In a deep shot down the left field line, Chapman picked up his 14th homer of the season. This is Chapman’s third straight game with a home run. This gave the Athletics an extra insurance run, putting the A’s ahead 7-5. The seventh ended with Matt Olson’s third swinging strikeout of the game.

In the 8th, the Athletics put an insurance run on the board. Stephen Piscotty had his 11th double of the season and his second hit of the game by taking the ball to the Athletics’ popular hitting ground of the day (the left field line). Mark Canha then extended the lead with a gentle RBI grounder through the shift on the right side. Although Profar hit into a 3-6-1 double play, that couldn’t dampen the mood in the coliseum.

In total, the Athletics had 8 runs on 10 hits in 33 at-bats. There were two Athletic walks, seven strikeouts with seven left stranded on the day.

As for Chris Bassitt and his cast of relievers, it was a solid day. Bassitt alternated between a three-up, three-down inning and one that gave up one or more runs. In both the first and the third innings, he easily handled and sat down three batters to finish the inning quickly. Bassitt’s fourth inning was similar to his more challenging second inning. The scoring began by leaving a breaking ball up in the zone to Albert Pujols who picked up his second hit of the game, a 375 foot home run, his ninth of the season.

Following Pujols’ homer, Kole Calhoun picked up his second double of the game (13 on the year) on a line drive to left fielder Robbie Grossman. With no outs, David Fletcher then singled to right on a 93 MPH sinker which advanced Calhoun only to third as it was unclear if the ball would be caught or not. Canha looked as if he was going to catch it, and this was well-played by Canha to hold the runner to one base. Brian Goodwin followed with an infield grounder to Bassitt that caught Calhoun running down the line. Bassitt threw to Phegley who threw to Chapman who threw to Olson who put the tag on and send Calhoun to the dugout (1-2-5-3). With runners advanced to second and third, Dustin Garneau was hit for the second time, this time on his right elbow versus just a uniform brushing. Luis Rengifo then did what was needed, hitting a sacrifice fly to left to score Fletcher. The inning then ended with leadoff hitter Tommy La Stella popped out to first baseman Matt Olson.

Bassitt had a strong fifth and then another struggling sixth inning that led to another Angel’s run and put them within two runs of tying the game (6-4). After walking Calhoun, Fletcher hit an RBI double past a diving Chapman. The ball then ended up in the left field corner, a tough pickup for Robbie Grossman who got the ball in quickly but not before Calhoun scored. Bassitt then exited after five innings. In total, Bassitt gave up six hits, four home runs, two walks and two hit batsman. He did capture three strikeouts, and all of this was done with 91 pitches.

Yesmeiro Petit came in and gave up a base hit to Goodwin who advanced to second on a throw home by Laureano. While Laureano’s laser throw made it to Phegley, and pretty much on the mark, it was a short hop that was difficult for Phegley to handle and it bounced off his glove to get by him. Fletcher scored as it passed by and luckily Petit’s basics were solid, backing up hia catcher and keeping Goodwin at second rather than allowing him to advance to third. Dustin Garneau then popped up to Josh Phegley behind the plate and near the screen. The last batter that Petit faced was Luis Rengifo who hit a liner that bounced off of Petit’s glove rolled to Marcus Semien who threw him out at first. In truth this was a lucky outcome for Petit, and had his glove not deflected the ball, it would have been a clear RBI single. Petit then left the mound, giving it over to Ryan Buchter who struck out leadoff hitter Tommy La Stella; this inning brought the game to within one run at 6-5.

Ryan Buchter only faced one batter, replaced by Lou Trivino in the 7th who came into the game wielding his fast ball. His first victim was Mike Trout who went down swinging. While he did give up a base hit to Shohei Ohtani, this did little damage. Ohtani was caught stealing, gunned down by Josh Phegley for the third out of the game. Joakim Soria easily handled the 8th as did Blake Treinen in the 9th. So, while there were difficult innings, the overall pitching was solid and the Angels were in the lead for only a short time.

Depending on how one figures in the to-be-continued, rained-out Detroit game, the A’s have either won 10 in a row or 7 in a row. Given this post by MLB, it seems that 10 in a row is at least the un-official nod.

And, clearly, Dave Kaval likes it!