On a gorgeous sunny day in Chicago, the A’s open the weekend in near-perfect fashion with a solid 7-0 win over the White Sox, setting the tone for a winning weekend with this afternoon’s victory. Behind an incredible start by Mike Fiers, whose tidy 95 pitches, seven innings, three hits and eight strikeouts, were good enough for his 11th win of the season, the A’s were their best selves; they hit home runs (Chapman; his 25th, Piscotty and Pinder; 11th each) and the bullpen of Diekman and Soria shined, closing out the game with minimal effort. The A’s now get to enjoy a Friday night with a win before any of their Wild Card rivals even start to play.
Bob Melvin earned his 700th win as the manager of the Oakland A’s with this low drama game, and I’m still as happy to have him at the helm as I was when he first took over. It’s been a wild ride, but there has been so much more fun than not during this journey and this season certainly falls into that category.
For all the frustrating bullpen fails, and the shaky-at-best starting pitching, Mike Fiers has been the clear ace of this staff all season long; today allowing just three hits in his seven innings as he rolled along merrily, shutting down the White Sox offense all day. He didn’t walk a batter and never was in trouble. He would have won anyway with the 2-0 lead he was staked to most of the game, but the A’s five-run eighth inning sealed this all-important August win to pull the A’s into a virtual tie with the Tampa Bay Rays before their game tonight. This is playoff stretch baseball and we’re here for it.
The best thing ever happened today in the very first inning. Matt Chapman, who has been certainly a card carrying member of the struggle bus as of late, smoked a 1-2 pitch on a line drive out to left field off Ross Detwiler; the ball cruised out of here at no higher than the height of the fence, which it grazed on its way out for his 25th home run of the year, giving the A’s the early 1-0 lead. The A’s put two more on in the inning, but couldn’t score any more.
More fun times to open the second, as this time Stephen Piscotty smacked a no-doubt homer to double the A’s lead to 2-0 and that’s where the game largely stayed for the rest of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Fiers roomba’d his way up and down the lineup; six up, six down, allowed a single in the third, and then five up, five down, hit one batter in the fourth, a single in the fifth, and a single and a hit batter in the six; his biggest threat of the day, followed by a perfect seventh. With machine-like efficiency, he made the 2-0 lead stand up the whole way, until the A’s had some fun in the eighth.
Jace Fry thought he would be in for a fun afternoon, but that did not happen. He walked Mark Canha (who had a near-perfect day at the plate of his own) right in front of a Chad Pinder home run to again double the A’s lead, and a walk to Khris Davis followed by a single by Piscotty, earned him the showers. His replacement, Josh Osich, didn’t fare any better, giving up doubles to both Jurickson Profar and Dustin Garneau (who has really made an impact this last week!) to give the A’s the 7-0 lead.
A perfect inning by Jake Diekman, who struck out two of the three batters he faced, and Joakim Soria, who allowed a single and nothing further, closed the game for the A’s, as near-perfect as games even go.
Now we can scoreboard watch to our hearts content before the A’s take the field tomorrow at 4:10PM; Tanner Roark vs. Reynaldo Lopez. We’ll see you back here with all the action!