Well, now, this is the A’s team we expected and came to love last summer, and instead of recapping last Friday night’s loss, I had the good fortune to trade for this game. This was a legit pitching duel, a nailbiter that the A’s pulled off in grand style thanks to a terrific start by Daniel Mengden, backed by home runs by Beau Taylor (his second) and Matt Chapman (his nineteenth!), capped by a save by newcloser Liam Hendriks.
Obviously, the win—and the two-game sweep—is awesome, but more than that, unless the Astros mount a 7-run inning, the A’s will close the AL West gap to just 7.0 games tonight, as they reach their high-water mark of the 2019 season, five games over the .500 mark.
Games don’t come much more perfect than tonight’s; a shutout by the pitching staff (Mengden for six innings, allowing just four hits against five K’s, Petit, Soria, Hendriks for one each), and two solo home runs for the scoring; on-brand A’s, as the kids say.
It’s not that the A’s didn’t have any men on the bases; they loaded the bases in the second with some help from the Cardinals to bring up Daniel Mengden, who struck out to not help his cause. They’d have two more on in the third thanks to singles by the Matts, but Davis and Canha both struck out to end the threat.
It took until the fourth inning, but the A’s broke through, thanks to a two-out, 0-2 count home run by back-up catcher Beau Taylor. It was glorious.
A 1-0 lead is never safe, but it sure didn’t feel like it was in jeopardy tonight, as Mengden scattered his four hits and one walk in his six innings. Petit pitched a perfect seventh, Soria a perfect eighth, and Hendriks added a touch of drama with a one-out double, bringing up the tying run, but eventually closed the game with no further damage.
Meanwhile, in their top of seventh, the A’s gained the insurance run they so desperately needed, as Chapman homered (also with two out) to give the A’s the only cushion they’d need in the 2-0 win.
It was a solid, brilliant win in every way, despite the odd two-game series in St. Louis, as the A’s now fly back to the West Coast (and my side of the state) for a four-game series against the Angels, as the A’s try to creep ever closer to the Astros.
We’ll see you back tomorrow at 7:07PM; Tanner Anderson will take on Griffin Canning. I’ll see you back here Friday for the second of the four. LET’S GO OAK-LAND!