The wave continues!
The Oakland A’s won their 12th straight game on Friday, this time 3-1 against the Baltimore Orioles to launch a weeklong road trip. It was a relatively quiet affair compared to their last few contests, with no shutouts or slugfests or comebacks or walk-offs but rather a tidy, efficient nine innings that wrapped up in under three hours.
The A’s biggest remaining question mark amid their current hot streak is their starting rotation, which has shown flashes of its expected potential but also had a few disaster outings mixed in. They got the good version tonight.
In most cases all you can ask from your fifth starter is someone who can keep you in the game for five or six innings, and Cole Irvin did that Friday for the second time in a row.
After navigating through trouble in the 1st inning, the lefty retired eight straight batters and eventually carried a shutout into the 6th. Baltimore finally got to him for a run with a series of four singles, but they weren’t able to go beyond that for a crooked number, as Yusmeiro Petit came in and tossed three pitches (none above 85 mph) to get two outs and end the rally.
- Irvin: 5⅓ ip, 1 run, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 8 hits, 93 pitches, 87.6 mph EV
The southpaw did dance with danger a few times. He benefited from a couple loud outs including one at the wall and saw a couple big drives go just foul, and the singles rally in the 6th included some sharp contact. But it all worked out and he chewed through several innings and did enough to win a game.
After bailing out Irvin’s final jam, Petit stuck around for the 7th, followed by J.B. Wendelken in the 8th and then Jake Diekman in the 9th for the save. The bullpen allowed a couple hits but nothing that escalated into worrisome territory.
The lineup kept things relatively modest with only three runs, but that was enough on this night, and we still saw plenty of the encouraging signs from the past couple weeks. Each outfielder drove in one run, and each in their own promising way.
Oakland was handed a rally in the 2nd, with two walks to lead off the frame and then a wild pitch to move up the runners. With nobody out, all LF Seth Brown had to do for an RBI was make contact, and that happens to be the primary thing he needs to prove in his rookie year — his power is undeniable and we’ve already witnessed it, but as time goes on and the league sees him for the first time, he’ll need to keep adjusting to continue putting the bat on the ball consistently like he’s been doing.
So far, so good, as Brown delivered once again. He didn’t hit it that well, but all he had to do was hit it, and his routine grounder rolled to the second baseman with plenty of time for the runner to scamper home. Mission accomplished, 1-0 A’s.
Next up was RF Stephen Piscotty, with a similar situation in which he just needed to make contact to bring home the runner from third with one out. Piscotty is coming off two disappointing years lost to injuries and slumps, including a skyrocketing K rate last summer, but he’s off to a great start this year. The team didn’t need fireworks in this at-bat, just to hit the ball somewhere, and he came through with a soft liner to left. It fell for a single, but even if it had been caught it would have scored the runner all the same as a sac fly, and the next batter Elvis Andrus also singled to end any doubt.
The next run came in the 5th, off the bat of CF Ramon Laureano. Laser has dazzled us with all kinds of game-changing highlights this month, but overall his bat hasn’t yet reached full brightness with an 87 wRC+ and .206 average entering the day.
Given all that, it was nice to see him lay into one and deposit it over the fence for his second homer of the year. And it was a whopper, at 107.2 mph exit velocity and 428 feet in distance, making it the A’s longest dinger so far this season.
Taking care of business
The Orioles are not expected to be very good this year, and they’re a team the A’s are supposed to beat more often than not. You never expect a sweep, but you go into each day assuming you should win this one, and today they took care of business in the opener.
The streak continues, and Oakland is now in sole possession of first place in the AL West. Ride the wave!