Only aside from clinching a Division title, the A’s are exactly in the place they want to be going down the home stretch of the final eight games of the season. Sure, they scoreboard watch as much as the next team, but they don’t have to. As long as the A’s win, they need no additional help, and despite wins tonight by both the Indians and the Rays, the A’s took care of their own business, beating the Rangers by a touchdown and a two-point conversion, behind an absolutely phenomenal start by Mike Fiers, who left his last start early, but pitched a complete eight innings tonight, facing the minimum 24 Texas batters, allowing two hits (one erased in a double-play, the other picked off); ending his start by retiring 16 in a row. It was a dominant, electric performance, especially coming off what looked for all the world like a season-ending injury in his last start, and he owned the field, the Rangers, the night tonight in front of a great Friday night crowd. Fiers was the hero of the game, for sure, but the supporting cast joined him from the offense.
You’ll be glad to know that Matt Chapman, despite another 0-fer, did walk twice (and score two runs) in this one and he absolutely smashed a ball in the first inning that was caught in left field. So those are all good signs, even if he didn’t have much to show for it in the box score.
The A’s jumped out to the lead almost immediately; Ramon Laureano opened the second with a single and after Davis struck out, Sean Murphy walked to put two on for Chad Pinder. “Swipe Right!” we all yelled, as Pinder went deep for a home run, out into the Oakland night, to give the A’s the 3-0 lead that would never be threatened.
After a leadoff walk to Matt Chapman to open the third, Mark Canha doubled him home for the A’s 4-0 lead—not his only RBI in the game—after Sean Murphy walked and Marcus Semien doubled him home for the A’s fifth run, making the Rangers pay for every single walk they issued (8), Canha knocked a ball out of the park for a solo home run; his 25th on the season, complete with an impressive bat flip as he notched the A’s sixth run, because why the heck not. It’s late September and the A’s are winning every game.
The A’s added one more in the seventh on an RBI single by Laureano after back to back walks to Olson and Canha, and a wild pitched scored the eighth in the eighth. Chris Bassitt was tasked with the easy ninth inning and he K’d two before retiring the Rangers en route to the A’s ninth win in ten games.
The A’s still hold a two-game lead over both the Indians and the Rays as they play game two tomorrow at 6:07pm. In a stretch where every game counts, the A’s just need to win. They’ll be going for another win tomorrow, throwing Sean Manaea against Brock Burke.
LET’S GO OAK-LAND!
MAGIC NUMBER #7