The Oakland A’s acquired Frankie Montas from the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2016, and on Tuesday he got his first chance to pitch against his former team. Unfortunately, the Dodgers also happen to be the second-best scoring club in the majors this year, and they came out on top in this matchup.
Montas was knocked out after four innings, and the A’s lost 7-2 in a game where little went right for them in any department. With the win, plus a loss by the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers officially clinched the NL West division crown, joining the A’s as Western division winners.
The game began well enough for Oakland. Their second batter, Robbie Grossman, went yard on a 98 mph fastball, fighting it off for what looked like a harmless popup to left field or perhaps a foul ball. However, it kept carrying until it surprisingly bounced off the foul pole for an opposite-field dinger.
Unfortunately, that was just about the end of the good news for the A’s. The Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the 1st, and Oakland briefly retook the lead in the top of the 3rd, but then Max Muncy homered to put L.A. on top. Then Chris Taylor homered. Then A.J. Pollock homered. Suddenly it was 5-2 after four innings, and Montas was finished.
Montas: 4 ip, 5 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 3 HR, 7 hits, 70 pitches (49 strikes)
There wasn’t actually that much hard contact other than those homers, but three dingers in four innings is entirely too many even without adding anything else. To Montas’ credit, he did also miss some bats (14% rate), and the hit ahead of Muncy’s homer was a popup to no-man’s land that probably should have been caught by somebody. In some ways this start wasn’t as bad as it looked, and in others it was exactly as bad as it looked.
The bullpen offered initial hope but immediately let through a couple more runs. T.J. McFarland was greeted with a homer by Corey Seager, and J.B. Wendelken loaded the bases on an error and two walks but kept the damage to just one.
Those insurance runs didn’t end up mattering, though, because the A’s lineup didn’t have any answers for the Dodgers’ pitching anyway. They put someone on base in nearly every inning, but then went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, continuing a troubling yearlong trend. Oakland was even less effective in the later innings against the bullpen, as L.A. relievers retired 10 of their final 11 batters to end the game.
The good news is, this contest didn’t matter. The A’s already clinched their division, so all that’s left to play for is seeding among the top three in the AL. And if anything, with the way the bracket is shaping up, it might be better to lose and stay put at No. 3 because that might end up counter-intuitively offering an easier matchup than the first two seeds.
The A’s and Dodgers are back at it Wednesday, at 6:40 p.m. once again. This time it’s a battle of lefties, Sean Manaea vs. Julio Urias.