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Game #121: Chapman comes alive as A’s best Giants, even series

MLB: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants
Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman (26) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Led by two home runs from Matt Chapman and a 3-for-5 hit fest from Robbie Grossman, the Oakland Athletics (68-52) exploded for nine runs against the San Francisco Giants (60-61) to prevent the A’s bullpen from wasting a spectacular start from righty Homer Bailey and finish the two game series at Oracle Field at one apiece for the cross bay rivals. The Giants had a huge eighth inning off of relievers Joakim Soria and Yusmeiro Petit but fell short by a final score of 9-5.

**click here for the game thread**

Oakland built a sizable lead at a steady pace in the early goings. Chapman, the A’s slumping-of-late All-Star third baseman, came to the plate with two outs in the first inning and launched a 3-2 four-seamer from Giants starter Tyler Beede into the stands in right center.

Homer Bailey gave himself some run support in the second inning. Stephen Piscotty led off with a base hit and was advanced to third on consecutive groundouts from newcomer second baseman Corban Joseph and catcher Chris Hermann. Bailey then hit this soft grounder to third for an RBI single. He lined one into center for a second hit in the fourth, too—perhaps Brett Anderson has a new challenger at the plate!

The A’s offense kept rolling in the third inning. Left fielder Robbie Grossman led off with a line drive double to He of the Revered Surname, Mike Yastrzemski, in left field. Chapman joined Grossman on the bases via the commission of Beede’s second HBP of the day, and first baseman Matt Olson brought both runners home with a double to Giants right fielder Austin Slater. Meanwhile, Bailey was looking his best: he allowed just one hit and struck out four in four shutout innings that ended with the A’s up by four.

Beede enjoyed markedly less success than his A’s counterpart today. He was pulled after allowing a leadoff single to Olson in the fifth. Tyler exited with a final line of four runs allowed on eight hits with five strikeouts in four innings pitched. He issued no walks but hit both Chapman and Olson in his turn on the bump today.

The A’s added on in the sixth thanks to Grossman’s sixth home run of the season, a two run blast to left field off Giants reliever Travis Bergen. Chapman followed with a deep shot to center that nearly became his second homer of the game but instead barely stayed in and found center fielder Kevin Pillar’s very capable glove.

Homer Bailey made his best start so far for the A’s today, completing seven shutout innings with an economical 91 pitches, 66 of which were strikes. He struck out seven while allowing just two hits and a single walk. Four of his six starts since joining the A’s have been quality.

The A’s further padded their lead in the eighth but the Giants answered back loudly. Marcus Semien hit a triple off Giants reliever Williams Jerez that scored Khris Davis, who had pinch hit for Bailey and made it aboard on balls. A’s second baseman Corban Joseph, making his debut with the A’s, also got his first hit in green and gold though he was thrown out when Hermann hit into a double play. Down 7-0, the Giants worked back into it against A’s reliever Joakim Soria in the bottom frame. Shortstop Brandon Crawford and Austin Slater singled and walked, respectively, to put two aboard with no outs. Crawford got to third on a groundout from substitute second baseman Donavan Solano, and then took home on a passed wild pitch from Soria to score the Giants’ first run of the game. First baseman Brandon Belt followed with a walk, and then Yastrzemski made it 7-4 with his 13th dinger of the season.

Bob Melvin pulled Soria in favor of Yusmeiro Petit with just one out, but the A’s workhorse couldn’t work out of it. Petit allowed a single to third baseman Evan Longoria and a double to ex-A’s All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt that advanced Longoria to third. Pinch hitter Alex Dickerson grounded out but brought Longoria home in the process for the Giants’ fifth run. Melvin pulled out all the stops and brought closer Liam Hendriks in to end the inning. Liam struck out Pillar to accomplish his mission, finally putting a five-run frame in the books with the A’s ahead by merely two runs.

Fortunately, the A’s offense had some left in the tank as they put up some welcome insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Matt Chapman started things off with his second home run of the game to stretch the A’s lead back to three runs. His 2019 home run total is now equal to a certain A’s Hall of Famer’s retired jersey number at 27. Center fielder Mark Canha and right fielder Stephen Piscotty singled in succession and found themselves at the corners, and Joseph got his first RBI as an Athletic on a sacrifice fly to Pillar that scored Canha.

Hendricks came back to close and was less than perfect, but more than adequate to get his 13th save of the season: he allowed a double to Slater in the bottom of the ninth and naught else while striking out three of five batters faced in total across one and a third. In the end, the A’s had worked it, 9 to 5. What a way to make a living!

With today’s win and the Rays’ 7-2 loss to the Padres, the A’s remain in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, just two games behind Tampa Bay for the second spot. The A’s will hop back to the East Bay today and prepare for a much-anticipated four game series against the Houston Astros, who are a near-insurmountable 9.5 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West. A’s number one starter Mike Fiers (11-3, 3.30) squares up against the Astros’ number five, Aaron Sanchez (5-14, 5.60 ERA) to open the series tomorrow at 7:07pm PDT.

The Tasty Bits at the Bottom

  • Alex Hall separates the wheat from the chaff to illuminate that Bailey has been mostly great.

Bonus tweet:

  • Profar, reduced. Susan Slusser reports that candid discussions have transpired. Will Jurickson be someone else’s Pro-ject next year?
  • 8,999. “What is the number of wins in A’s franchise history, Alex?” Hopefully “tomorrow” answers a closely related question.