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Game #62: A’s Surrender to Angels in Marathon Slugfest

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Despite scoring nine runs on 15 hits, the Athletics lost tonight’s game against the Angels by a score of 10-9 at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. The outcome ties their series at a game apiece, drops the A’s back below .500 at 30-31, and gives the Angels a chance to overtake the A’s in the standings with a win tomorrow. At four hours and 13 minutes, the game’s duration rivaled the longest nine-inning contest in Athletics franchise history.

Game threads: one two three four!

The top third of the Angels order inflicted most of the damage, with third baseman Tommy La Stella, center fielder Mike Trout, and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani combining for six hits and seven runs batted in; all three hit home runs. The A’s impressive production, led by left fielder Robbie Grossman, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, fell short as A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden surrendered an early 7-1 lead and the A’s ultimately lost tonight’s battle. In the bottom of the ninth, the game tied at nine apiece, Angels substitute catcher and former Athletic Dustin Garneau smashed a deep fly to left that eluded Robbie Grossman to become a walk-off RBI double and prevent the game from going extra innings.

Both teams employed the opener strategy, with Cam Bedrosian pitching the first for the Angels, Joakim Soria for the A’s. Bedrosian completed his mission, holding the A’s scoreless in the opening frame despite issuing a walk to Matt Olson batting in the third spot. Soria, who has struggled on numerous occasions this season, did not get through the first unscathed, as Tommy La Stella led off for the Halos and took Soria’s second pitch over the right center field wall. Joakim maintained his composure and struck out both Trout and Ohtani en route to completing his assignment with the Angels up 1-0 heading into the second.

If baseball allowed mulligans, the Angels may have opted to give Bedrosian a second inning, as “follower” Félix Peña quickly fell victim to the A’s bats in the top of the second inning. Robbie Grossman got the A’s offense going with a double and Ramon Laureano extended his on base streak to 24 games with a walk to join Grossman on the bases. Jurickson Profar put the A’s on the board with another double, scoring Grossman for Profar’s 33rd RBI of the season. Marcus Semien followed with a base hit that scored Laureano and Profar, Semien taking second as Trout attempted to throw Jurickson out at the plate. Matt Chapman completed a four run inning for the Athletics with an RBI single that scored Semien. Daniel Mengden pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the second for the A’s, who held a 4-1 lead heading into the third.

Peña couldn’t find a tourniquet to stop the bleeding in the third. Khris Davis led off with a single, Stephen Piscotty followed with a walk, and Grossman brought Khrush to the plate with a line drive single to Trout in center field. Profar later stepped up to the plate, his batting average finally above .200, and got both his second hit and second RBI of the night, sending Piscotty home for the A’s second run of the inning. With two outs and Peña teetering, Semien re-emerged as the team’s RBI leader for the game, singling to center, plating Grossman for his third knock-in, and knocking Peña out of the game after just 1.2 innings and 61 pitches. Peña’s ERA leapt from 3.42 to 4.53 as he allowed seven runs in his brief appearance. Noé Ramirez came in relief and finally ended the frame, eliciting a soft grounder to first from Chapman.

The A’s were already leading 7-1 as Mengden took the mound in the bottom of the third, but the Angels followed with their own big inning and hammered back into the game. With one out, Trout hit his 31st career home run against the Athletics with La Stella on first, cutting the A’s lead to four runs. Ohtani singled and then reached third when first baseman Albert Pujols doubled, and right fielder Kole Calhoun advanced both runners on a groundout to Olson at first, further cutting Oakland’s lead to three runs. Shortstop David Fletcher followed with one more RBI single, and the third inning ended with seven runs scored in total by both teams and the A’s leading by just two. A’s broadcaster Ken Korach noted that Mengden was barely touching 90 mph as he struggled to get Angels out in just his second inning of the game.

Ramirez gave the Angels’ defense a much needed reprieve in the fourth with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Olson, Davis, and Piscotty, all swinging. Mengden got into another jam in the bottom frame, and was replaced by Yusmeiro Petit as Trout stepped up with two on and one out. Mengden exited after just 65 pitches in 2.1 innings, ultimately charged with six apiece of hits and runs, and no strikeouts. Petit retired Trout on a loud fly ball to Laureano in center field, but Ohtani followed with a towering three run homer that Laureano could only watch fly as the Angels took an 8-7 lead before Petit could finally finish the frame.

The game’s offensive explosiveness subsided for awhile starting in the fifth inning. Noé Ramirez halted the A’s momentum, striking out five in total across 2.1 innings, issuing no walks, and allowing just one hit: a ground rule double to Profar in the top of the fifth. Justin Anderson and Ty Buttrey followed Ramirez, holding the A’s scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Olson managed to break an 0-18 slump and cross back above the Mendoza line with a seemingly stratospheric, two out pop up double, but Khris Davis was not able to capitalize with Olson in scoring position, grounding out to La Stella at third to end the inning.

The A’s spelled relief “W-C-W,” as newcomer lefty Wei-Chung Wang hurled three stellar, much-needed shutout innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out the Angels’ most potent tandem, Trout and Ohtani, back-to-back in the bottom of the sixth. The score remained 8-7 as the eighth inning commenced.

Late in the game—and the evening—the A’s turned the tables and gave Wang a chance to pick up the first win of his big league career. Buttrey opened the eighth with a strikeout against Mark Canha, who came in to pinch hit for Nick Hundley, but followed with a walk to Semien. Chapman singled, and then Olson punctuated the earlier snap of his hitless streak with a game-tying RBI single to Angels’ left fielder Brian Goodwin, though Matt the Taller pushed his luck and was thrown out at second while Chapman advanced to third. Hansei Robles came in to pitch with two outs and Khris Davis stepped up to bat, no doubt aspiring to get the A’s back in front. Instead, Robles threw a wild pitch past catcher Jonathon Lucroy, and Chapman made a dash for the plate. He was initially called out on a very close play, but the call was overturned on appeal and the A’s took the lead, 9-8.

A’s reliever and sometimes opener Liam Hendriks, resurgent of late, entered the game in the bottom of the eighth with a 1.62 ERA on the season. Lucroy, batting eighth, sparked an Angels rally with a one out single. Grossman made a magnificent diving catch for the second out, but Tommy La Stella advanced the Angels’ cause with a line drive single to Laureano, bringing Trout to the plate with two on and two out. Bob Melvin opted to give Trout a free pass and gamble on a Ryan Buchter versus Shohei Ohtani duel with the bases loaded. Melvin lost the bet as Buchter walked Ohtani, scoring Lucroy’s pinch runner, Taylor Ward, to tie the game. Lou Trivino took over on the mound and got the A’s out of further trouble, striking out Albert Pujols to send a tie game to the ninth inning.

With Robles still on the mound, the A’s threatened in the top of the ninth with a leadoff double from Grossman, but none among Laureano, Profar, and Phegley could advance the A’s left fielder. Trivino returned to pitch the bottom of the ninth, got Calhoun and Fletcher out, and then gave up a single to right field from left fielder Brian Goodwin. Dustin Garneau came to the plate, having subbed at catcher for Lucroy in the top of the ninth,

Goodwin stole second, and then this happened:

Grossman undid his earlier heroics, failing to track down Garneau’s fly ball, and thus for a third time in their last four games the Angels upset the A’s in the most tremendously frustrating fashion, by a score of 10-9.

Half Stack of Fun Facts

  • Seeya, Mendoza. Matt Olson’s batting average briefly dropped below the Mendoza line tonight. Profar’s finally rose above it again, hopefully for good this time. Jurickson went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs batted in. He’s now batting .206.
  • Ramon’s sweet sixteen. Though he did reach base tonight for a 24th consecutive game, the hits did not keep on coming. Ramon’s hitting streak ended at 16, equaled this year by only one other player: Astros’ shortstop Carlos Correa.
  • Late game lockdown era: ended. The A’s have lost three of their last four to the Angels, all late in the game. Soria gave up a two run single in the ninth to Ohtani on May 28, and the A’s lost 6-4. The next day, Treinen blew a two run lead in the ninth and the A’s eventually lost 12-7 in 12 innings. See above re: tonight.

The series wraps up with a tiebreaker tomorrow night, pitting Mike Fiers (4-3, 4.78 ERA) for the A’s against Tyler Skaggs (4-5, 4.50 ERA) for the Angels. The winning team will not only take the series, but also narrowly lead the other in the AL West.