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Game #83: A’s Can’t Overcome Crooked Number in Anaheim

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Things started off in grand fashion for the A’s Thursday night with Ramon Laureano homering to lead off the second inning. Oakland starter Tanner Anderson, who had struggled in his previous start against Tampa Bay, quickly gave the lead back by serving up a two-run homer to Kole Calhoun. In the third inning, the Angels offense hung a five-spot on the board and the A’s were never able to come close after that. The Angels ultimately prevailed, 8-3.

This is the game the A’s will want to put behind them quickly, but let’s examine some of the highlights and lowlights for the green and gold tonight.

The Highlights

  • Matt Olson hit an absolute tank to center field in the fourth inning. Olson has displayed tremendous power since returning from injury, hitting 13 homers in his last 40 games. Only Pete Alonso, Freddie Freeman, and Mike Trout have more homers over that span.
  • Wei-Chung Wang continues to eat innings. Wang has done a terrific job as a middle to long relief man for the A’s and he did it again on Thursday, coming in for 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. With several A’s starters struggling to get deep into games, Wang has been an essential cog in the bullpen since joining the club.
  • Marcus Semien had a strong day at the plate and dodged a bullet in the field. Semien had two hits including a very nice piece of hitting where he slapped an RBI single through the right side of the infield. More importantly, Semien came away from a very dangerous play unscathed. In the second inning, Justin Upton grounded one to Semien but the barrel of his broken bat ricocheted off the infield dirt and shot up near Semien’s head as he was about to make the throw. Upton beat the throw, but Semien was able to duck safely under the bat.

The Lowlights

  • Tanner Anderson’s performance was the big disappointment of the night. Anderson’s first two big league starts this year were solid, making it seem like he would be a serviceable fifth man in the rotation. However, his last start was rocky against Tampa Bay and tonight’s outing was disastrous—he allowed 7 runs on 8 hits in less than three innings of work. With injured pitchers working their way back and Daniel Mengden throwing a gem against St. Louis, it will be interesting to see how many more starts Anderson gets this year.
  • Shohei Ohtani continues to haunt Oakland. There might be some special reason for Ohtani to hate the A’s. Some may recall that when Ohtani was looking for an MLB team to sign, his list of potential teams included every team in California except the A’s; and ever since coming over, he has torn up the A’s from the mound and the dish. Thursday was no exception as he lashed a two-run homer to left-center to start the big inning for the Angels. He also struck out three times, but the damage was done—and one of those strikeouts came on a very unfortunate call by the home plate umpire.
  • The A’s went quietly into the night in the 9th inning despite the middle of the order batting. Olson, Pinder (who pinch-hit for Davis), and Laureano hit successive soft fly-outs and the Angels nabbed the victory without any trouble.

The A’s will look to bounce back Friday with Mike Fiers on the mound.