The weather is heating up in the Bay Area, and so are the Oakland A’s.
The green-and-gold won their fifth game in a row Tuesday, by a 6-4 margin over the Los Angeles Angels. The A’s fired on all cylinders as they’ve done all month, with a balanced offensive attack from top to bottom, good enough pitching, and highlight defense.
This game was similar in spirit to last night’s victory. The Angels scored the first run early, but Oakland charged back to take a lead in the middle innings, and then the A’s bullpen made things interesting but ultimately held on for the save.
The evening began with Frankie Montas on the mound, and he continued Oakland’s recent string of strong starting pitching. The Halos small-balled a couple runs off him over seven innings of work, but he didn’t surrender any extra-base hits and only helped them out with one walk. After allowing his second run of the night, he retired his final eight batters in order.
- Montas: 7 ip, 2 runs, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 5 hits, 98 pitches, 88.2 mph EV
The right-hander also got the better of Shohei Ohtani all three times they met, with a groundout, double play, and strikeout.
Montas had Ohtani absolutely fooled in this at-bat pic.twitter.com/XdnwzYV47V— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 16, 2021
The performance drops Montas’ ERA to 4.21 for the year, but if you give him a mulligan for his season-opening disaster start then it goes down to 3.51 in his most recent 13 outings.
While Montas was chewing through innings, the A’s lineup was using the time to build up a lead. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 3rd, the same names who have been hammering the ball for the past week kept doing so — Tony Kemp single, Mark Canha RBI double, Matt Chapman RBI single, putting Oakland ahead 2-1.
The Halos tied it up in the 5th, so the A’s answered back in the 6th. The heart of the order loaded the bases with nobody out, and Seth Brown entered as a pinch-hitter against a righty reliever. All he needed to do was make contact basically anywhere, and he succeeded with a deep skyout for a sac fly to cash in a run, pushing Oakland back on top.
Next up was Elvis Andrus, riding a streak of four straight games with an RBI. He made it five in a row, ripping a double to clear the rest of the bases for two more runs. At 106.8 mph exit velocity it was the second-hardest contact by the A’s tonight, and the fourth-hardest of Andrus’ season.
Elvis with another gapper pic.twitter.com/7EGM3uWTZ6— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) June 16, 2021
The shortstop is on a roll over the last few weeks, batting .338 over his last 20 games, and Statcast agrees he’s swinging one of the best bats on the roster during that time including the second-highest exit velo on the club. He’s still yet to clear the fence for a homer, but he came inches away from doing so tonight and settled for a second double.
lol Elvis jokes he needs to hit the weights after barely missing out on his first dinger of the year ️♂️ pic.twitter.com/p9HBOQ9vuJ— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) June 16, 2021
After seven innings, the A’s led 5-2, and they only needed six outs from their bullpen to finish it off.
Comeback thwarted again
Just like last night, the Halos didn’t go quietly in the final frames. Jesús Luzardo pitched the 8th and retired three of his four batters, but the hit was a moonshot solo homer by Ohtani.
Ohtani just blasted this Luzardo meatball 115.8 mph yeesh pic.twitter.com/1barB5GNBU— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) June 16, 2021
No worries, Sean Murphy got the run right back in the bottom of the inning. Ohtani’s blast had the edge in exit velocity (115.8 vs. 107.0 mph), but Murphy’s traveled farther (436 vs. 429 feet).
Both of Oakland’s closers pitched last night, so Yusmeiro Petit got the save chance in the 9th. He served up a solo homer too, by Jared Walsh, but then retired the next three in order.
The Angels spent most of the night spraying some singles against Montas, and then the final frames smoking dingers against the bullpen. Good thing they never did those two things in the same inning!
While Montas missed a ton of bats on his own, he also got a couple assists from the defense behind him.
The one time Ohtani made strong contact against Montas, it went on the ground right at 1B Matt Olson, who showed off his Gold Glove ability multiple times in rapid succession. After collecting the 104 mph grounder, he whipped a throw to second base, then dug out the instant return throw for an incredible 3-6-3 double play.
In the 6th inning Montas got a hand from his outfield, when CF Skye Bolt lived up to his name by bolting over and skying out for a highlight-reel catch.
"Man, what'd you do?"— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 16, 2021
"I went SKYE DIVING" pic.twitter.com/D9DFnSCRSF
And then, for the final out of the game, Chapman came through with this gem. It was sort of a Cespedes-style whoopsie set-up, as he bobbled a fairly routine grounder but then used the opportunity to recover and make a superhuman throw for the out. Most people would just take an error after not fielding that ball cleanly.
Green and Gold Gloves!
Like an Elvis Andrus exit velocity, the temperature is hitting triple-digits in much of the Bay Area over the next few days, up as high as 109 degrees depending where you live. Presumably that heat wave is the result of the A’s recent play scorching everything around them, as they’ve won 11 of their 13 games so far in June. Nobody in the majors is hotter — not even in post-game press conferences.