Make it four in a row!
The Oakland A’s lineup kept humming on Tuesday, as the green-and-gold earned a 7-5 comeback victory to complete a two-game road sweep of the Arizona D’Backs and extend their overall winning streak to four. The A’s have scored 29 runs in those four consecutive triumphs.
While the final result was familiar, this game followed a script we haven’t yet seen in 2021. The A’s fell behind early, spotting Arizona a 5-0 lead by the 2nd inning. But the D’Backs never scored again, and Oakland launched a late comeback against the bullpen that put them over the top plus insurance.
The first run seemed harmless enough, as Stephen Piscotty blasted a solo homer in the 4th. They were still down by a lot, but at least they definitely wouldn’t be shut out.
Don’t write off Piscotty just yet. Through 32 plate appearances he’s got a 131 wRC+, and Statcast says that’s an understatement of well he’s swung. And that’s not counting the foul-homer he hit against Clayton Kershaw, which is still relevant in this small of a sample size. Today’s dinger went 404 feet.
That was it until the 7th, but then the A’s got to work. A rally formed and Mark Canha singled in a run. A couple batters later, Jed Lowrie blasted a three-run homer to tie the game. It’s his second of the year, and he now leads the club in RBI, to go along with a 173 wRC+ that also ranks atop the lineup.
The homer went to review because a fan caught it in the first row. But all the replay accomplished was giving us a chance to appreciate the fan, who caught the ball, tauntingly offered it back to the outfielder, then in one smooth motion threw a different ball back onto the field and kept the real HR one. Just a flawless play all around, from the catch to the taunt to the switcharoo to the throw.
This fan isn't fooling anyone! pic.twitter.com/KGs1ClLmcu— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 13, 2021
The A’s had stormed all the way back, but it was still only tied. They’d need at least one more to win, and Seth Brown delivered right on time.
Seth Brown with a MASSIVE long ball for the lead pic.twitter.com/0NGh3eIpZi— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 13, 2021
That’s his second homer in 20 plate appearances, and like Piscotty he also has a near-miss foul against a Cy Young in Trevor Bauer. This one went 422 feet. If you aren’t already excited about Brown, this would be the time to jump on the bandwagon.
In the 9th, Matt Chapman nearly joined the parade. He drilled one 426 feet to straightaway center, but the wall in Chase Field goes back to 407 and the liner didn’t stay elevated long enough to clear it. He settled for an RBI triple, but at the Coliseum this goes out past the 400 sign in CF, no question.
Chappy provides some insurance pic.twitter.com/ipLmKC1XQO— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 13, 2021
Six runs, seven runs, nine runs, seven runs, all leading to four straight wins. Three more homers today, and another stolen base by Ramon Laureano, his MLB-leading eighth of the year. That’ll do.
Pitching staff saves
The thing about young pitchers is that sometimes they’re inconsistent on their way to greatness. That was the story for Jesús Luzardo today.
The lefty breezed through the 1st inning but served up a three-run homer in the 2nd, and then Arizona got another rally going in the 3rd. Two weak singles set the table and a smash double by Asdrubal Cabrera plated them both, and then Carbera came around on an RBI groundout. Luzardo didn’t make it out of the inning, with reliever Jordan Weems recording the final out.
- Luzardo: 2⅔ ip, 5 runs, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 HR, 6 hits, 63 pitches, 84.2 mph EV
Weems saved Luzardo in that inning, but the real hero turned out to be Deolis Guerra. The veteran right-hander made his second appearance for Oakland after signing last winter as a minor league non-roster free agent, and he turned in three innings of brilliant, scoreless mopup work.
- Guerra: 3 ip, 0 runs, 5 Ks, 0 BB, 1 hit, 76.3 mph EV
Except it didn’t turn out to be mopup work at all, but rather buying time for the A’s lineup to fight back into a game that wasn’t really over. Thanks to Guerra keeping Arizona at bay, the score was still just 5-1 when Oakland’s bats finally got going, well within reach.
There wasn’t much drama in the bullpen’s final three innings, but they weren’t boring either. Adam Kolarek and Yusmeiro Petit teamed up for the 7th inning, and Petit nearly allowed a two-run homer to Nick Ahmed. But this time it was the other team seeing their long fly hook just barely foul, as Piscotty and Brown did earlier this month.
The 8th went to a pitcher identified as Sergio Romo, but with a face now instead of an enormous beard. He tossed a perfect 1-2-3.
When the bottom of the 9th rolled around, the A’s had a two-run lead, finally bringing them their first save situation of the year. It went to Lou Trivino, who walked a batter but got a double-play grounder to end it. In addition to being Oakland’s first save of the year, it’s also Trivino’s first since 2018.
The pitching staff still isn’t dominating entire games, but they’re doing enough to win at a moment when the lineup behind them is thumping. And maybe the next A’s closer is emerging.
One final pitching note: Since this was a National League game, the pitchers had to hit. That meant the first plate appearance of Luzardo’s career!
Jesus Luzardo’s first at-bat in pro ball, and we’ve got contact. pic.twitter.com/joGp2EUc7z— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) April 13, 2021
Why is he even swinging though? Arizona starter Zac Gallen knows what’s up and showed bunt both times up, even though it led to a strikeout once. Gallen even got on base with one of his bunts when Oakland couldn’t field it quickly enough! Every A’s pitcher should just bunt from now on in interleague games, especially after seeing Chris Bassitt possibly tweak something on a swing last night. Or if you’re worried about fingers on bunt attempts, then just stand there and take three strikes. What was the upside of Luzardo swinging the bat?
Technically this is a sweep, even if it was only two games, and it puts Oakland at 5-7 overall. Now the A’s get a day off while they travel to Detroit, where they’ll face the rebuilding Tigers for a four-game series.