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Game #113: Gifted Runs the Difference in 4-2 Win

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Game Thread #1 - Game Thread #2

In his A’s debut, Tanner Roark looked just about as good as advertised. On the day threw five innings with six strikeouts, and allowed four hits and two walks. The only real big downside to his performance was that the typically free swinging Cardinals got Roark to throw a lot of pitches in the process, forcing his pitch count to 108 by the end of the fifth. A first pitch home run off the bat of Paul DeJong in the fourth inning, a curveball that curved right into the heart of the zone, was Roark’s lone blemish on the day. His fastball sat comfortably around 93-95 MPH, and his offspeed pitches generated a lot of swings and misses.

The A’s offense made a lot of noise in the first couple innings but came up empty when not gifted opportunities. Several balls were hit hard but directly at defenders, and the team failed to get those key hits to drive runs in. In the first, an early walk was squandered and in the second, the team couldn’t do anything with two singles. The third inning began with back to back squib singles from Dustin Garneau and Marcus Semien, but Robbie Grossman, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson struck out in succession to end the threat.

So, with the A’s incapable and/or unwilling to take care of their own business, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty each got themselves hit by a pitch to set up a rally. Jurickson Profar grounded into a potential inning ending double play ball, but Goldschmidt struggled to get the ball out of his mitt in time and St. Louis had to settle for the out at first base only. It was then that Garneau, just reacquired off of waivers by the A’s, launched a double over the head of Dexter Fowler in center field for a two-run double that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

Both Canha and Piscotty had two strikes against them when hit by the pitch.

In the fifth, once again, the A’s rallied but failed to score. Two walks in the inning drove up Wainwright’s pitch count but nothing else of consequence ultimately happened. As a result, Wainwright was brought out again in the sixth inning, despite his pitch count being in the low 90s. With one out in the frame, one of his cutter’s caught far too much of the zone and Profar hit it very high and very far, over the fence in the right field corner for a solo home run and a 3-1 lead for the A’s. Wainwright was then removed for a reliever.

Oakland got baserunners in the seventh and eighth innings, but failed to do anything with them.

Yusmeiro Petit was tasked with relieving Roark and quickly got three outs on eleven pitches. Blake Treinen then came out for the seventh inning, and he was so efficient that Bob Melvin left him in for the eighth. A walk prevented Treinen from finishing the frame, but he looked closer to the closer he was last year than he had in a long while. Jake Diekman entered to finish out the eighth inning, but he uncorked a wild pitch and surrendered a bloop single that scored the runner allowed by Treinen and narrowed the A’s lead to 3-2.

Once again, because the A’s were incapable and/or unwilling to help themselves to an insurance run, the Cardinals had to gift one to the A’s instead. Against hard throwing reliever John Gant, following a Profar ground out Oakland worked two consecutive walks, and then Grossman got ahead in the count 3-1 before a productive ground out advanced the runners to second and third. With two outs and Chapman at the plate, a wild pitch gave the A’s the insurance they dearly needed.

Liam Hendriks closed out the ninth with no real drama, and the A’s swept the home series and the season series. The team will now head out to Chicago to take on the Cubs and the White Sox. Tomorrow’s action begins at 5:10.