It was a lopsided win for the Athletics today as they took Jon Lester to task. The A’s got Lester for 11 runs, including an explosive 2nd inning where Dustin Garneau hit a 3 run homer, and a resurgence in the 4th with Stephen Piscotty hitting a 3 run dinger of his own.
Marcus led things off with a bang, smacking a single to left field. Matt Chapman flew out to left, and Matt Olson grounded the ball up the middle right to Javier Baez for a double play. The A’s were sat down in the first after Lester threw only 8 pitches.
Leave it to Brett Anderson to throw just as fast a half as Lester. Hayward grounded out on a great Chapman throw, Castellanos flew out to Piscotty in right. And while Kris Bryant singled on a ground ball Semien couldn't get to in time, Rizzo grounded out to Pinder at second to move us along to the 2nd inning.
If Semien’s lead off single wasn’t enough, Mark Canha’s lead off triple must be. Canha belted it deep to the ivy, and motored around the bases as Albert Almora couldn’t find the ball.
Lester caught Pinder looking with a cutter on the outside corner, but on what could have been ball 4 on the same corner Stephen Piscotty dropped the ball into shallow right and scored Canha with an RBI single. Robbie Grossman copied what Stephen did, lining a ball to right for a single, and Dustin Garneau followed it all up by blasting a 3 run bomb to deep left field.
Professional hitter Brett Anderson dropped a single to left field to keep the rally moving along, and Marcus walked on 5 pitches and Chapman took first on 6 pitches to load the bases. Matt Olson kept it rolling with a liner single up right-centre that scored two and moved Chapman to third. On a Canha grounder up the middle, Chapman pushed to score and his foot collided with Caratini’s wrist on the slide. Knocking the ball out of his glove, and the glove off of his hand, Chapmans run counted and Canha moved to second.
Pinder grounded out to first but advanced Canha another 90 feet. Stephen Piscotty checked his swing on a pitch that bounced off of his ankle, but the ump ruled it a swing and Jon’s bad inning was finally over, 8 runs later.
Anderson went to work striking out Javvy Baez on three pitches, but then came back to walk Almora. David Bote grounded a ball to Semien, and a 6-4-3 sequence later, the A’s were out of the inning.
After giving Lester trouble in the 2nd, the A’s cooled down in the third, Grossman struck out and Garneau grounded out after 2 pitches. Future Silver Slugger award winner Brett Anderson got his second hit of the night with a single to left, but Marcus grounded out to Bryant, leaving Anderson stranded.
Caratini led off for the Cubs with a liner right to Matt Olson for an out. Lester chopped the ball and it bounced over Semien’s attempt to catch it, getting Lester to first on the error. Hayward lined the ball over Pinder’s head into right for a single. Castellanos hit an easy high fly ball for out number two, and Bryant hit a deep fly to right to end the inning.
Matty Chaps practiced patience with a lead off walk, but Tall Matt could not do the same, striking out swinging. Canha struck out as well, with a big whiff after a bunch of fouls. Pinder moved Chappy into scoring position with a single to left. It turns out that a single put Pinder into scoring position too, because Piscotty took em all home with a dinger to left field.
As Lester’s pitch count passed into the 90s, Robbie Grossman struck out on a called strike.
Rizzo had an extended at bat, but ended up rolling the ball up the centre of the infield for an out. Javier Baez beat the ball through the left side of the infield for a single. Almora flew out to right and Bote grounded out to Chapman, and the A’s kept rolling through the game. At this point Brett has thrown 50 pitches less than Lester, and allowed 11 less runs.
Four innings would be it for Lester, as Joe Maddon called on Duane Underwood Jr. to take over. Garneau struck out swinging, and Underwood did the same to Anderson and Semien. Striking out the side is a big change considering what the A’s offence had been pulling out so far this game.
Caratini grounded out to Marcus, and Anderson earned his second strikout catching Underwood swinging. Tony Kemp was subbed in for Heyward and grounded out to Anderson covering first for an easy 1-2-3 inning.
Chapman swung over a low Underwood fastball, Olson did the exact same, and then caught Canha swinging over a changeup. Underwood struck out 2⁄3 of the A’s lineup in a row, a big change from Lester’s innings.
Anderson was back out for the 6th, Castellanos drove a double to deep left, and while Grossman’s throw was right on line, it didn't come down in time to get the out. Kris Bryant followed with a deep 2-run drive to put the Cubs on the board. Taylor Davis flew out to centre, and Happ lined a ball to left for a single. Almora struck out on a ball inside, before Bote drilled a ground ball to left for another single. Caratini grounded to Pinder and was caught for the last out of the inning, but the Cubs managed to get some damage in on Anderson.
Derek Holland was out for the 7th, walking Pinder and ending the strikeout streak. Piscotty lined the ball right to Caratini at first for an out, and then Grossman grounded into a double play to keep the A’s from making any noise for 3 innings now.
Bob made the change to bring in Lou Trivino for the bottom of the 7th, starting by walking Holland. Kemp grounded up the middle into the second 6-4-3 of the night for the A’s. Sweet Lou got Castellanos to whiff on three straight pitches to finish the 7th on a tidy inning of work.
Garneau skied his first pitch from Holland out to centre field for a fly out, bringing up Khris Davis, pinch hitting in the pitcher’s spot and also flying out to the outfield on the first pitch. Holland gets another easy inning as Semien grounded out to Bryant, clearing the half inning in 6 pitches.
Wei-Chung Wang was out for the bottom of the 8th, striking out Bryant on 3 pitches, and Taylor David grounded out to Marcus, but Ian Happ got his second hit of the evening with a laser shot to left field for a double. Almora tapped the ball up tot the mound, and Wang quickly tossed him out for another solid inning of relief.
As will often happen in a blowout, the Joe Maddon let a position player pitch, with Taylor Davis pitching and Kyle Schwarber coming in as an emergency catcher. Profar started off with a single past a diving Almora in centre. Olson hit a dribbler that no one could get to in time for the out, and Canha belted his first pitch to left field to load the bases. Pinder hit into the infield with the Cubs catching Profar at the plate to save a run, and Piscotty flew out on a weak fly to right. Grossman grounded out to end the half. While the A’s loaded the bases off of pitches in the 50-65mph range, the Cubs defence kept them from blowing up the game any more.
Wang continued into the 9th, giving Bote two quick strikes but then four straight balls for a walk. Caratini doubled to the corner deep in right, moving two Cubs to scoring position. Schwarber came up with a belted single to left centre, giving the Cubs a pair of runs to ever so slightly make up some of their deficit. Tony Kemp flew out to Piscotty in deep right for the first out. Castellanos bounced a double off of the Ivy, moving Schwarber to third. Striking out Bryant, Wang seemed more like his 8th inning self. Taylor Davis was the Cubs’ last chance, fouling off 5 straight pitches and almost swinging at a couple balls, the last pitcher for the Cubs ended the game by flying out to Piscotty in right.
The A’s really quieted down in the latter half of the game, while the blasted off against Lester, as soon as Underwood was in the offence shut down, including 6 straight strikeouts. Wang had a great 8th inning, but the elongated bottom of the 9th really soured his outing. Anderson was strong through his first 5 innings, while allowing sporadic hits and a single walk, he really only had trouble in the 6th, when he gave up the Bryant homer.
The 9th inning was a bit silly with the A’s limiting themselves from really exploding against a soft-tossing position player, and Wang allowing the Cubs to rally a bit. But I would always rather see things get silly late in a blowout than in a one run game like yesterday.
With today’s win the Athletics move to 65 and 49, and they sit a win behind the Rays for the second AL Wild Card. They finish the series in Wrigley tomorrow with Homer Bailey facing off against Jose Quintana in a day game.