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Game #90: A’s Keep Rolling, Anderson’s Strong Start, Timely Offense Earns 5-2 Win

And a Barreto home run to boot!

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Thread #1
Game Thread #2

Happy (holiday) Friday to all of you who joined us tonight (and anyone who is out partying like it’s 1989; both because of the second earthquake in as many days and because the A’s are mashing). The A’s win again tonight behind Brett Anderson’s strong start; he pitched into the seventh, allowing five hits and just two runs.

Meanwhile, the A’s offense had a slow start; in fact, they themselves only collected five total hits on the night, but they made them count to maximum effect, scoring five runs. Tonight’s home run came from an unlikely source, as Franklin Barreto records his second hit of the season, which at the time, tied the game at one, which sort of made up for the shenanigans in the first inning.

Down 2-1, the A’s got some help in the seventh from what can only be labeled as Marinerrors; two on one play that ultimately allowed the tying and (and eventually winning) runs to score. We nervously counted down the outs in the seventh and eighth innings (spoiler alert: the bullpen makeup of Petit, Buchter and Hendriks was perfect tonight) and then breezed right through the ninth.

Once again, for the second game in a row, things looked a little tense going into the A’s last at-bat; tonight, the A’s clinging--and I mean clinging--to a 3-2 lead. It’s not that we expected another grand slam for run support; after all, we had an All Star closer available tonight, but insurance runs are always appreciated. And it wasn’t a grand slam, but just as effective, especially since it preserved the save for Hendriks; pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman, fresh off the bench for Pinder, knocked in two with his double to give the A’s the breathing room that was decidedly not needed by Hendriks.

So the A’s win; THE A’S WIN and thanks to the Angels knocking off the Astros earlier tonight, they have closed the gap to 6.5 games in the West. This. Is. Happening!

Things started a little wonky for the green and gold tonight, and it finished in near-total disarray for the Mariners. Both teams were officially charged with 2 errors, but that’s only the recorded ones, and there were plenty more interesting plays along the way. The bottom of the first started with the extra-speedy Mallex Smith opening the game for the Mariners with a single. As one does when they have Smith’s speed, he steals second. And then Matt Olson threw the ball away trying to pick him off and he ends up at third. And is promptly scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. So that wasn’t...great.

Meanwhile, the A’s saw Chapman walk in the first, but their first hit didn’t come until a game-tying home run by Franklin Barreto in the third, sandwiched in-between a whole lot of outs. Brett Anderson allowed one more blemish on his otherwise excellent night; he gave up a leadoff homerun in the fifth to Tom Murphy to give Seattle their second lead of the night.

When I say Barreto’s hit was the only hit going for the A’s, I’m not kidding; it took until two outs in the sixth inning for the A’s to record their second hit, and he was promptly thrown out at second base, trying to stretch the single into scoring position. Let me rephrase; despite replay, Matt Chapman was called out likely because of the original call on the field; replay pretty clearly shows he may have beaten the throw. What replay definitely would have shown in the fourth is Mark Canha grounding a ball off his foot before it went fair, which explains why he didn’t run to first on the play, but the umpiring crew decided his ball was fair, in play, and an out. And then, just for funsies, in the top of the sixth, Brett Anderson missed the bag on the first runner of the inning (oh look, it’s Mallex Smith!) to give up a rare baserunner. That call was correct; Canha’s definitely wasn’t, and Chapman’s could have gone either way. But it was looking a tad bleak for the A’s, down 2-1 with a speedy runner on first and no one out in the sixth.

And then, Smith gave the A’s a second chance to pick him off, and they didn’t miss this time. And still down 2-1, the A’s started to bat in the seventh, just as a new game thread was opened (coincidence? I think not).

Matt Olson recorded the A’s third hit of the night; this time a real double. Khris Davis, somewhat accidently after swinging through a couple of pitches, singled to right field to score Olson to tie the game. On 3-0 (yes, 3-0) Mark Canha hit a high chopper to first (that almost went through, save for a nice play) to move Davis to third with one out, bringing up Ramon Laureano. I thought his sacrifice fly was plenty deep until I realized that Khris Davis was running, and I’m sure I was not alone in cheering his flight home to score the go-ahead run.

Anderson started the seventh inning with a strikeout, but was pulled after the subsequent single in favor of Yusmeiro Petit. A passed ball by Phegley took away the would-have-been double-play, but Petit recorded the third out anyway. Petit struck out Nola to open the eighth inning and he would give way to Ryan Buchter, who struck out Dee Gordon and got Mallex Smith to ground out. All eyes were on Liam Hendriks, new All Star, warming up with the 3-2 lead.

And the A’s offense had one more shot, one more hit, and it was a huge one. After Olson flew out, both Davis and Canha worked full-count walks to put two on for Ramon Laureano, who very nearly hit into a double-play; either by Canha’s interference at second, or the close play at first. But no interference was called; and Ramon’s sheer hustle out of the box earned him the safe nod, and with two outs and runners at first and third, Melvin elected to pinch-hit for Chad Pinder with Robbie Grossman.

Grossman immediately doubled over the head of Santana in right, easily scoring Davis from third with no effort and right behind him all the way from first, Laureano as well, for a huge two-run double, the A’s fifth hit and fifth run.

Hendriks nailed down his fourth save of the season with a groundout and two strikeouts, perfectly highlighting his closer chops and the A’s win again. On a Friday night.

We do it all over again tomorrow, same time, same place; Chris Bassitt vs. Marco Gonzales. I’ll be your host again tomorrow; let’s roll!