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Spring Game #5: Luzardo Dazzles, Allen (Austin) Homers

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Oakland Athletics Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If this were the regular season, one could call today’s spring training game a tense, taut affair. The juggernaut A’s kept taking modest leads and the upstart Padres kept clawing their way back. The A’s scored singular runs in the first and fourth inning, only to surrender two runs in the fourth. Oakland immediately retook the lead with two in the fifth and one in the sixth, but then the Padres matched them with three in the bottom of the sixth. A’s got one in the seventh, the Padres got four, and then never looked back, winning the contest 9-6.

***Click Here to Revisit the Game Thread***

Jesus Luzardo pitched two innings, allowing no runs, one hit, and striking out two Padres. In his second inning, wherein he netted both of his strikeouts, Luzardo only needed 10 pitches to retire the side. Luzardo worked very fast, was very Buehrle-esque, on the day, often ready to throw his next pitch before the hitter was back in the box. He mixed up his pitch usage and kept the Padres guessing, causing them to chase breaking stuff out of the zone and freeze on pitches that were more out over the plate.

Also notable in Luzardo’s stellar outing, his fastball regularly hit the gun in the mid-90’s. However, the ace wasn’t trying to air it out.

Following Luzardo was Lou Trivino, whomst had an inauspicious start to his spring after a shaky year in 2019. Today, however, Trivino looked better. After allowing an infield single to begin his outing, on a batted ball that the duo of Chapman-Olson makes look deceptively easy on the routine, Trivino shut down the opposition. He fell behind one batter 3-0 but otherwise looked to be more in control of his offerings. He didn’t do a great job of holding his baserunner but limited hard contact to neutralize said baserunner. With a little help with slick, fundamental defense from his up-the-middle defense in Ryan Goins and Franklin Barreto, Trivino got out of the inning without being scored upon.

Donnie Hart didn’t fare as well. The lefty has entered camp with an outside shot of winning a spot in the bullpen, but his results, in a small sample and merely in exhibition games, haven’t shown up thus far in spring. The sidewinder got two quick outs, one on a strikeout, before surrendering a double. Hart nearly got out of the inning on a soft groundball hit to Barreto, but while rushing the throw to first Barreto bobbled the ball and dropped it. It was not a sure out at first. Things unraveled from there for Hart, who walked and then hit his next two batters faced and was removed from the game. Hart was charged for a second run when his replacement, Brian Schlitter, walked in a second run.

Schlitter was fine, otherwise, getting a strikeout and a walk and allowing no hits in his second inning of work.

Tanner Anderson wasn’t helped by the defense behind him in the sixth inning, but he didn’t help himself either. Pinder botched an easy throw to start the inning, airmailing it over the first baseman to start the rally. With two outs in the inning, a ground ball clanked off the glove of a diving Pinder and placed runners on first and third. The Padres then got three consecutive singles, two softly hit, one hit hard, and three runs crossed the plate. Anderson then got a strikeout to end the rally. His final line, one inning pitched, four hits, three runs, one strikeout.

Ben Bracewell pitched poorly, and allowed three runs before exiting with the bases loaded and just one out. Wandisson Charles was brought in to replace him and stop the bleeding. On his first pitch, the Padres hit a sacrifice fly that charged a fourth run to Bracewell’s line. Charles walked the next batter he faced, as his offerings were a little all over the place. During the walk, catcher Austin Allen had a pitch deflect off of his glove for a wild pitch. Charles managed to induce a forceout to end the rally.

Norge Ruiz did not do so great in the 8th, walking himself into trouble, allowing a double steal due to not paying close attention to his baserunners. He ultimately did not give up any runs, which is more than three of his teammates can say.

On the offensive side, the A’s performed much better today than they had in their first four goes at hitting. The team notched twelve total hits and scored six runs in today’s loss.

Chad Pinder, starting at third base, had the best day at the plate for the team. His at bat in the first inning resulted in a booming double off the wall in center field that likely would have been a home run if not for high winds blowing in towards home plate. He worked a full count, walked, and scored a run in his second try at the plate, and he jumped on a pitch early in the count for an RBI single in his third at bat. Despite his shaky day on defense, he was a vital part of the A’s middle of the order threat.

Khris Davis made his first appearance of the spring today after battling back from a calf injury. He struck out after working a full count in the first inning, fooled by a good offspeed pitch below the knees, but hit a solid single in his second plate appearance before being pinch run for.

Robbie Grossman reached base twice on a single and a walk and scored two runs himself while batting second and playing left field. Both Grossman and Kemp have played very well so far in spring training, potentially intensifying the battle for a backup outfield spot.

Franklin Barreto had a solid day in the field, notwithstanding one potential play in which Barreto was forced to rush while charging in on a slow ground ball. At the plate, Barreto appeared to struggle with pitch recognition, and took some pitches that were right down the middle or chased offspeed pitches that were well out of the zone. However, Barreto did jump on a middle-in fastball and rip it to left field for a double in his third at bat. Notably, both Vimael Machin and Sheldon Nuese each got a hit after entering the game as defensive substitutions in the game’s second half. Nuese also worked a walk, and looked solid at second base, while Machin didn’t get much action at third.

Finally, Carlos Perez got the start at catcher and looked fine. He had some solid swings and threw out one of two attempted base stealers. However, both Jonah Heim and Austin Allen got game action today as well. Heim appeared as Khrush’s pinch runner and got a single in three at bats. Austin Allen blasted a home run in his first at bat and lined out hard in his second at bat, before getting robbed of a single on a short line drive to right field to end the game.

Alas, even Allen’s impressive power wasn’t enough to carry the A’s to their first spring victory.

A’s are still winless in February, but on the flipside the A’s escaped today’s game without any injuries. Also, many key contributors to the 2020 roster did a good job on the day. The A’s take on the Diamondbacks tomorrow at noon.