The Los Angeles Angels are already in full regular season form.
The Oakland A’s obliterated the Angels in their Cactus League game on Saturday, cruising to an 11-2 blowout. And it wasn’t just a pure prospect exhibition, as both clubs had most of their MLB stars in the lineup.
The Angels started with right-hander Jaime Barria on the mound. The 23-year-old isn’t currently part of the Halos’ expected rotation, but he’s made quite a few starts for them over the last few years and has a couple hundred solid big league innings under his belt. The A’s scored off him in each of his three innings, with an RBI double by Matt Olson, a homer by Chad Pinder, and then a homer by Olson that hit a palm tree beyond the wall.
Olson finished the day 3-for-4 and drove in runs with each of his hits, 4 RBI total. His spring line is beyond absurd.
Olson, spring: 13-for-32 (.406), 5 HR, 4 doubles, 14 RBI
That’s a 1.424 OPS, albeit with only one walk to eight strikeouts. Spring stats don’t mean anything, but sometimes they can at least tell you that a player is warmed up and ready for Opening Day to get here. Here’s his RBI double in the 1st inning:
It’s the same story for Pinder, who also went 3-for-4 with multiple run-scoring hits, and also continued to push his spring line off the charts.
Pinder, spring: 11-for-30 (.367), 3 HR, 2 doubles, 7 BB, 6 Ks
Making that line even more impressive is that the super-sub began the spring 0-for-10, so all of the damage came in just the 20 most recent at-bats.
By the end of the 4th inning, Olson and Pinder had put the A’s in front 6-0 almost entirely on their own, driving in five runs and scoring the sixth on a wild pitch. The rest of the lineup began to chip in after that, beginning with a dinger by catcher Sean Murphy, in his third game back from a collapsed lung.
It's so good to have you back, Murph pic.twitter.com/xC1v1XkaqE— Oakland A's (@Athletics) March 20, 2021
Murphy says he’ll be ready for Opening Day, and right now he’s giving zero reason not to believe him.
After Murphy’s homer, a couple more A’s got in on the fun. Ka’ai Tom helped set the table with a single, one of his two hits for the day (now 7-for-14 this spring), and Elvis Andrus doubled in a pair, one of three hits for the shortstop today.
Then Olson was getting bored so he drove in another run to cap the rally to put the A’s up by double-digits. Oakland tacked on one more in the 9th on an RBI single by shortstop prospect Nick Allen.
Basically a shutout
The Angels did manage two runs against the A’s pitchers, but even those were unearned. Their big rally went like this: reached on an error by a minor league infielder, then single, single, bases-loaded HBP, sac fly. The runs count, but they were almost entirely handed to the Halos as gifts.
They had their chances, including three other innings that featured multiple baserunners, but Trout, Rendon, Upton, and Pujols combined to go 1-for-10 with a single. In other words, it was the quintessential Angels performance — seemed like they should have done better, but they just ... didn’t.
That’s partly because Chris Bassitt isn’t missing a beat from last year’s Cy-contending performance. He pitched scoreless ball into the 4th and finished with more strikeouts (5) than earned baserunners (2 BB, 1 hit). He was particularly efficient in the 2nd inning, needing only six pitches to complete that frame. And he reminded us that he’s the best athlete in the rotation.
OK maybe that clip didn’t show it, but trust me. Athlete.
Bassitt, spring: 10⅓ ip, 2 runs, 12 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR
We also got a great new Bassitt Fact, courtesy of Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:
[Pitching coach] Scott Emerson said he refers to Chris Bassitt’s big, slow curveball as: “Mr. Bloopy.” So there’s that.
Four relievers took it the rest of the way, highlighted by MLB lefty Adam Kolarek. He was on the mound for the Angels’ unearned “rally,” continuing a tough spring for the southpaw, though not anything to worry about moving forward once the numbers reset to zero in April.
On defense, third baseman Matt Chapman gave another demonstration of his fully healed hip. He did make a throwing error in the game, but that was mostly attributable to the David Fletcher Hex, and anyway he made up for it later by robbing Justin Upton.
Chappy robs Upton pic.twitter.com/8OlSMkpg2v— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) March 20, 2021
Let’s see it from another angle!
Spring training doesn’t count, and this big win doesn’t make the 2021 A’s any better than we already knew they were yesterday. But crushing the Angels is always fun and a reason for celebration. If you want to watch the game, MLB Network is airing it on delay at 8 p.m. PT.