The Oakland A’s lead the American League in home runs, and you can tell this weekend in Anaheim.
The A’s hit three more dingers on Saturday in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, raising their two-day total to seven long balls against the Halos. They’ve got 66 for the season, trailing only the Atlanta Braves in the NL.
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Oakland saved that power for later in the evening, though, as their first two runs were more products of shaky Angels defense. Mark Canha opened the game with a double to the gap in right-center, but a bobble by the center fielder gave Canha time to advance to third, putting him in position to score on a sac fly by Matt Chapman. Two batters into the game, the A’s led 1-0.
Picking up right where we left off #RiseAndGrind pic.twitter.com/jEw5k1smcs— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 23, 2021
The 3rd inning brought some deja vu. Canha led off again with a liner to right, and this time it was misplayed by RF Jose Rojas, turning a catchable ball into a double. Rojas was a defensive hero the previous night, throwing out a pair of runners at home plate, but tonight his miscue helped generate a bonus run for Oakland. A walk and a single loaded the bases, and a double play brought home Canha from third.
Then the fireworks began. In the top of the 6th it was Matt Olson, with a towering 40-degree launch angle.
MATT LS N pic.twitter.com/tpuJuz0mT5— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 23, 2021
In the 7th it was catcher Aramis Garcia, his second of the year.
Garcia makes that 4 #RiseAndGrind pic.twitter.com/CKwmxYV0lw— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 23, 2021
And in the 8th, Seth Brown went 415 feet with a runner on base, providing the final dagger for a couple insurance runs. He ranks fourth on the club with seven homers.
Party at home plate #RiseAndGrind pic.twitter.com/dMIMHWd5bG— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 23, 2021
Just like last night, the variety of offense was encouraging. There were the dingers we hope for, but also a couple of productive outs to bring runners home from third base. They only went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but you don’t always need a hit to bring in a run, and in two different innings they made enough contact to ensure they didn’t squander a rally.
That was plenty of scoring for starter Chris Bassitt. For six straight starts he allowed exactly two runs per game, until his last time out when the Astros got him for four. Tonight he went back to his norm, carrying a shutout into the 8th inning before finally putting a pair of runs on the board.
For the first seven frames, the Angels couldn’t put anything together against Bassitt. They only reached second base twice, they never put two runners on at the same time, and they had stretches of 10 in a row and seven in a row retired. There were only four hard-hit balls during that time.
They finally got to the right-hander in the 8th, beginning with a pair of singles to put runners on the corners. The next batter hit a grounder that was only good enough for one out instead of a double play, letting the runner from third score. Then Shohei Ohtani came up, and using nothing but his upper-body and a quick flick of the wrists he sent a 102 mph blast to the wall in center for an RBI triple.
- Bassitt: 7⅔ ip, 2 runs, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 5 hits, 95 pitches, 83.5 mph EV
Another quality effort from The Hound, including excellent peripherals like a bunch of strikeouts and a limit on walks and a low exit velocity. Perhaps most importantly, it’s the deepest he’s worked into a game this year, as he had twice completed seven frames but was yet to record an out in the 8th.
Chris Bassitt, Filthy 75mph Curveball...and K hop. pic.twitter.com/oRgxs2nOwe— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 23, 2021
After Ohtani’s triple, the bullpen came in to clean up. Yusmeiro Petit got the last out of the 8th to strand Ohtani, and then Jake Diekman pitched a perfect 9th including a pair of strikeouts. For Petit, it’s the 10th straight inherited runner that he’s stranded this year, after letting through his first four in April.
The A’s have already played a lot of tough teams this season, including a pair of AL East heavyweights in the Red Sox and Rays, last year’s world champion in the Dodgers, and the still-juggernaut Astros in their own division. That group has accounted for half of their schedule so far, 23 games in total, and Oakland has gone 10-13 in those contests. Playing that kind of competition so frequently can quickly expose a lot question marks on your roster.
Now we get to see the A’s play a couple of sub-.500 teams over the next two weeks, between the Angels and Mariners. Two games into their trip to Anaheim, their strengths are getting a better opportunity to shine. Lots of power in the lineup, hustle on the bases, great defense all over the field, and pitching that can look pretty darn good on its better days.
RHP Daulton Jefferies has been activated from the injured list for Triple-A Las Vegas.— Athletics Farm (@AthleticsFarm) May 23, 2021