The games don’t matter, but an 0-5 record is still ugly. The A’s have been giving up a lot of late runs, and many players on offense weren’t putting good wood on the ball. Today, the team won 16-3 against the visiting Diamondbacks, and the long shame of defeat is over.
The A’s scored six runs in the first and sent ten batters to the plate. The patience of the team in the inning was impeccable, the A’s working four full counts and walked three times, regardless of whether or not Diamondbacks starter Luke Weaver could be described as nibbling the zone. Ramon Laureano and Jonah Heim notched the key hits of the inning, each hit coming with the bases loaded and on a full count with two outs.
In the second, A’s hitters worked two more full counts in an inning that saw three consecutive extra base hits from Matt Olson, Mark Canha, and Seth Brown and two more runs. In the third inning, Marcus Semien walked and then Matt Chapman, with two outs in the inning, went deep to straightaway left field for another two runs.
Fast forward to the sixth inning, and the entire A’s infield consisted of potential second base candidates (Neuse at third, Mateo at short, Barreto at second, and Machin at first) and each of them had a chance to bat in what was a four run inning. With runners on second and third, Jorge Mateo turned around a 99 MPH fastball and knocked in two runs with a single. Vimael Machin didn’t wait around long to hit a single himself one batter later, his second hit of the day after doubling in two runs one inning earlier. Sheldon Neuse then singled in Mateo, giving A’s second basemen three straight hits in the inning. The A’s batted around in the inning, with Franklin Barreto batting first and tenth, but he didn’t do anything with either of his at bats. He struck out in his first appearance and then flied out to end the inning in his second.
All in all, the A’s placed a lot of probable opening day players in the lineup for today’s game, and everyone delivered. Semien and Canha each reached base twice and scored twice. The Matts each had an extra base hit. Laureano worked multiple full counts and drove in multiple runs. Each backup catcher option in Jonah Heim and Austin Allen had long at bats and base hits. Each second base option had good days at the plate, save for Barreto.
Seth Brown reached base all three times he came to the plate, with a walk, a triple, and a single in that order.
The lineup showed remarkable patience at the plate in today’s game, and in turn was rewarded with sixteen runs and nineteen hits against a cavalcade of Diamondbacks’ pitchers. To make the offensive performance ever sweeter, the A’s pitching staff showed up today as well.
Frankie Montas got the start for the A’s, scheduled to pitch one inning. In his one inning, Montas primarily threw his fastball, which was consistently at 96-97 MPH. He needed just fifteen pitches to retire the Diamondbacks in order, and he even got himself a strikeout.
Jake Diekman was penned for the second inning. Diekman did walk a batter in his appearance, but he did have fairly good control overall, getting ahead in the count either 0-2 or 1-2 to all four batters he faced.
J.B. Wendelken got two quick outs in the third inning before the wheels fell off a bit. He allowed three singles and a run before the third out was recorded, though the singles weren’t particularly well hit, rather well placed. T.J. McFarland navigated around two base hits and generated a lot of ground balls to get through his inning with no runs allowed.
Five pitchers who aren’t expected to spend any time in an A’s uniform this year, Jordan Weems, Jaime Schultz, Lucas Luetge, Ian Gardeck, and John Gorman kept the game in check for the final five innings, limiting Arizona to five hits and two runs, while striking out seven and walking two.
Winning is better than losing, even in February! If today was any indication, the A’s have a lot to look forward to in the months to come.