The Oakland A’s haven’t quite wrapped up the AL West division crown yet, but they did clinch two things on Friday.
The A’s guaranteed themselves a postseason berth via no worse than a Wild Card entry, and they also locked up The Bridge Trophy in their annual regional showdown against the San Francisco Giants, all with a 6-0 victory.
Oakland entered the day with a magic number of two over the Seattle Mariners to clinch at least the eighth seed in the AL playoffs. The Mariners lost on Friday, and that combined with the A’s win ends this particular race, though Seattle can still pass other teams to find their way into October. This is Oakland’s sixth trip to the postseason in the last nine years, dating back to 2012 — and the Houston Astros also lost Friday, so the A’s magic number for the division is down to two.
As for The Bridge Trophy, this is its third year of existence. Oakland won it in 2018, then San Francisco captured it last summer by winning three of four games. Now the green and gold will take it back at the end of the weekend no matter what happens on Saturday and Sunday, having won four out of six already.
The game itself featured heroes on the both sides of the ball for the A’s. Chris Bassitt carried a shutout into the 7th inning and then the bullpen took it the rest of the way. Oakland’s early run in the 1st inning would have been enough to win, but they piled on more thanks to a three-run homer by Matt Olson in the 3rd and then another rally in the 4th. The two ultra-hot new guys, Tommy La Stella and Jake Lamb, each drove in another run, and Marcus Semien added an RBI as well.
Beware of Hound
Only one starter in the A’s rotation has an ERA lower than 4.32, and it’s Chris Bassitt, now down to a 2.52 mark.
For the second time in his last three starts, Bassitt threw shutout ball into the 7th inning. During that span he’s got an ERA of 0.45, with just one run in nearly 20 frames.
In this latest gem, he never let the Giants advance even to third base, much less score. They got to second a few times, but only once on the strength of an extra-base hit. There was some hard contact but most of it was low-percentage, making the low hit total seem well-earned rather than lucky.
Bassitt: 6⅔ ip, 0 runs, 7 Ks, 3 BB, 3 hits, 101 pitches (68 strikes)
All three walks came in the 6th and 7th innings, but for most of the evening he dominated the Giants.
Oakland did finally turn to the bullpen in the 7th, and they were able to wrap up the shutout despite a couple near-dingers. Yusmeiro Petit was called to escape Bassitt’s final jam, and he was greeted with a deep drive that fell just shy of the wall at 388 feet. Later, J.B. Wendelken served up a monster foul ball to Alex Dickerson, which had the distance if it had been a few seating sections to the left.
Instead, the Giants came up empty, finishing with no runs and just those three hits, one of which was an infield single that barely made it past the pitcher’s mound.
The A’s scoring happened about how you might guess based on recent trends.
In the 1st inning, they scored because the hottest hitter on the team got a hit. Jake Lamb came up with a runner in scoring position and singled him home. That proved to be his only hit for the day, but he’s still 6-for-15 with 3 RBI in four games since joining the A’s.
In the 3rd, they scored because the mightiest home run hitter on the team hit a home run. Matt Olson struck out three times in four trips and he’s now batting .191, but that fourth trip to the plate proved to be worth it. He came up with two runners on base and smacked a three-run dinger, his club-leading 14th of the year — and within the top dozen or so sluggers in the majors.
In the 4th, they scored because the guy who always drives in the runner from third drove in the runner from third. Since joining the A’s, Tommy La Stella has now come up six times with a runner on third and less than two out, and he’s driven in that runner on five of those occasions. That’s because he always puts the ball in play, unless he walks — he’s struck out once in 77 plate appearances, and often when you’re in those runner-on-third situations all you have to do is hit the ball anywhere to earn the RBI.
The rally continued a moment later, as Marcus Semien lined another single to center to add another run. That made it 6-0, and nothing else really happened for the rest of the night. Oakland walked once in the 5th and then never reached base again, and the Giants made a couple minor pushes and almost went yard a couple times but still never got to third base, even against the bullpen.
One more loose end
The A’s took care of 67% of their weekend business in this opener, between the postseason berth and the trophy. Now they look toward clinching the division, which they can do on Saturday only if the Astros cooperate by losing again. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m.