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Game #56: 9th Inning Struggles Snap The A’s Win Streak

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

From the first pitch the A’s saw, they were fighting to keep their win streak going. The Athletics hit 3 homers to score their 4 runs, but the 2nd and 9th innings were where the A’s pitching could not keep up. Frankie Montas faced his worst outing of the season, and while Joakim Soria started the top of the 9th strong, the third out remained elusive for just a bit too long.

*** Revisit Game Thread 1 | Game Thread 2 | Game Thread 3 | ***


Frankie Montas

While things started easy with a 3-up-3-down 1st inning, the 2nd inning was a bit tougher for the A’s fireballer. A pair of walks around a Lucroy single and a wild pitch loaded the bases, and a David Fletcher pop up in to no-man’s-land in right field gave the Angels 2 runs. Following that, Tommy La Stella bounced the ball off the outfield wall to score 2 more, and with Mike Trout getting an intentional walk, Montas almost got out of the inning with Ohtani hitting the ball to Olson in the gap. As Frankie ran to cover the force out, Shohei caught up to him and they tied landing their feet on the 1B bag. Ohtani was called safe, and the bases were once again loaded. Frankie managed to get Pujols to pop up into the infield and ended Montas’ worst inning of the year so far.

Frankie was back on his game in the 3rd, starting off with a 3 pitch strikeout, and getting out of the inning on 14 more more pitches. The troubles returned in the 4th, as Montas walked 2 Angels around a strikeout. But a gorgeous splitter struck out Trout, and Ohtani grounded out to end the top of the 4th before Montas could reach 100 pitches.

Montas had trouble locating his fastball early on, leading to 0-2 counts turning into walks and extended at-bats. His slider and splitter were deceptive, gaining a lot of swings and misses, but they could not compensate for the missed pitches. The Angels definitely got lucky with two of the three hits they flared off of Montas in the second, but Montas’ energy started wearing down quickly. By the 4th inning Frankie’s fastball was averaging 94mph compared to touching 99 mph in the 1st.

Largely due to the laborious 2nd inning, Montas was out of the game after 4.0 innings pitched. 4 Hits and 4 ER, with 5 walks and 5 Ks.


A’s Batters

Marcus Semien didn’t want to wait to get the A’s on the board, as he blasted the first pitch he saw for a leadoff solo homer. Semien powered it out to dead centre, hitting the ball a very nice 420 feet and starting the game off with a bang.

Stephen Piscotty extended his on-base streak to 24 games in a row after his 3rd inning single.

Speaking of streaks, Ramon Laureano extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 389 ft solo home run to left centre field in the 5th to get the A’s their second run.

Tropeano had managed to stay out of too much trouble through his innings. That is until the 6th, as Matt Chapman laced a liner to left field for a loud single. Chapman was followed up by Matt Olson tallying 2 Matts-matted-in with a towering home run off of the Holy Toledo sign in centre field to tie up the game.

Josh Phegley continued to make his All-Star candidacy known with a deep double off of the right field wall. While he hit it hard, it just did not have the height to leave the park. Josh advanced to third on a wild pitch, and while he was not able to come around to score, the 7th was another part of what has been a fantastic season for the Phegasaurus.


Bullpen

Wei-Chung Wang made his A’s debut in the 5th inning, getting Pujols, Calhoun, and Lucroy out in 11 pitches. Wang was back out for the 6th and worked quickly, getting his first 2 outs on 6 pitches, including a strikeout.

For the 7th inning the A’s trotted out Liam Hendriks. The Aussie was lights out against the heart of the Los Angeles order, getting both Trout and Pujols to fly out and striking out Ohtani. Back out for the 8th, Hendriks had a gorgeous strikeout against Calhoun to start things off. Hendriks kept rolling against Lucroy and Goodwin, as he struck out the side to top off a fantastic 2 innings of work.

Liam touched 98mph a few times with his fastball, and his ability to locate his fastballs around the plate made him electric tonight.

Joakim Soria was called to pitch the 9th inning and took control, getting two quick fly outs for the Angels 8 and 9 hitters. There was a single by La Stella, and Soria battled Mike Trout until Trout’s patience prevailed with a walk. With 2 on, a pitch in the dirt made its way to the backstop allowing the La Stella and Trout to advance to scoring position with 2 outs. What should have been a strikeout slider to Ohtani got called a ball, likely due to the ball being dropped. On the next pitch, Soria’s fastball was tagged by Shohei for a single to score 2 runs. Pujols grounded out right after to end the top of the 9th but it was a batter too late, and the damage was done with the Angels in the lead.


After a couple of chances the A’s dropped the game in the 9th. The team still played strong with amazing 2 inning appearances by Hendriks and Wang. The Oakland lineup also did not lay down. With 4 runs off of 7 hits and 5 walks, the Athletics’ offence was dangerous enough to keep the game close, just not enough to counter the pitching troubles.

Today’s loss brings the A’s to a 29-26 record, and keeps them 7.5 games behind the Astros.

The A’s finish this series tomorrow with an afternoon rubber match, Daniel Mengden will take the mound against Angels rookie Griffin Canning.