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Game #60: A’s beat Rockies again, win 4th straight

Ride the ... slope? Do they have waves in the mountains?

Oakland Athletics v Colorado Rockies
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have one of the most powerful lineups in the majors, and a trip to the mountains hasn’t done anything to slow them down.

The A’s slugged two more homers on Saturday at Coors Field, helping them to a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Oakland has now won four straight, including the first two of this three-game interleague series.

*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***

This game was similar in concept to Friday night’s 9-5 triumph, but slightly scaled down. The A’s scored early and often, and every time the Rockies cut into the lead Oakland would answer back and tack on some insurance.

Just like last night, it only took three batters into the game for the A’s to strike first thanks to extra-bases from Matt Olson. This time it was a 403-foot dinger, good for two runs.

Colorado got one back in the bottom of the frame, but the A’s kept piling on. In the 3rd inning they got two more, beginning with a solo homer by Chad Pinder.

With a 112.2 mph exit velocity, that moonshot went 462 feet. It’s the longest dinger by the A’s so far this year, and they’ve only hit one farther than that since the 2018 All-Star break (Sean Murphy went 464 last September). Since Statcast began in 2015, this is the seventh-longest ball hit by any Oakland player. (Trivia: Who hit the longest, at 480 feet? Check the comments for the answer!)

After Pinder’s fireworks, the A’s put runners on the corners with nobody out and Matt Chapman made enough contact to bring one home. It was a double play, so he doesn’t get an RBI, but it’s still a run!

Chapman came through again in the 5th. Once again he had runners on the corners, this time with one out, and he lofted a sac fly to plate the man from third. The box score says he went 0-for-3, and Statcast says he didn’t hit anything hard, but he sent two of the team’s six runs home just by making simple contact at the opportune moments.

That made it 5-1, but the Rockies battled back again in the 7th to narrow it to 5-3. Oakland didn’t settle for that slimmer lead.

When the A’s changed pitchers in the 7th, one-time NL Manager of the Year Bob Melvin pulled a double-switch that put Tony Kemp in the ninth spot of the lineup at second base, in place of Jed Lowrie. With one out in the 9th, Kemp came to bat instead of the pitcher’s spot, and lined a triple into the RF corner. A few pitches later, Mark Canha singled him home.

Granted, Kemp could have simply pinch-hit in this spot if he hadn’t come into the game already, and indeed Oakland made a pitching change to open the next inning anyway so it really made no difference. But technically the double-switch worked so don’t be a buzzkill about it.

As for Canha, he had another great day, going 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored — and he could have had another RBI, but the runner was thrown out at the plate by a millisecond including a great block by the catcher.

And that was only at the plate, as Canha also had a couple highlights on defense. Early in the game, he got out-hustled by a Colorado hitter who sprinted out a double on a short hit into Coors Field’s expansive outfield gap. They tried it again in the 5th, but this time he was ready and threw out the runner at second. Canha almost baited him into going, initially taking a slow trot toward the ball while signaling his teammates to cover the bag, then rushing in and making a quick sidearm throw right on target.

In the 9th, he finished off the game with this catch.

Canha is now 5-for-8 in this series, with a homer and two doubles. He’s reached base seven times, and scored and driven in three runs apiece. And he makes plays in center field.

Cole Rad, Oh!

While the lineup was mashing, starter Cole Irvin was getting back on track in the unlikeliest destination. Pitchers who allow a lot of contact can have trouble at Coors Field, but the lefty rolled right along, snapping a streak of three tough outings in a row.

The Rockies strung together a couple hits in the 1st inning to score a run, but from there on Irvin scattered the rest of his baserunners. For the next five frames, they only reached third base once, and second base twice.

  • Irvin: 6 ip, 1 run, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 6 hits, 85 pitches, 82.7 mph EV

Irvin did escape a homer when the batter just barely got under it, but there were only a few hard-hit balls against him. For the most part it was a parade of weak contact with some strikeouts mixed in, and he didn’t offer much extra help with only one walk.

While his pitching was impressive, Irvin’s top highlight came at the plate. The southpaw was acquired from the Phillies last winter so he had some batting experience already, with a career line of 1-for-6 and two walks. His first time up he laid down a perfect sac bunt, and then in the 4th he lined a single.

Nice swing! If you watched that highlight without context, would you have known it was a pitcher batting? Exit velocity: 85.3 mph, with a 74% chance of landing for a hit.

His teammates loved it — including Sean Manaea, who also has a hit in his career against Rockies starter Kyle Freeland.

After Irvin’s quality effort, Jesús Luzardo came in for his second relief appearance since returning from the injured list. He ran into a bit of trouble, but in a particularly memorable way.

In the 7th, we got a matchup of longtime elite prospects who have now graduated to MLB. It was Luzardo against Brendan Rodgers, and Rodgers launched his first career homer, a two-run blast. The middle infielder was drafted in 2015 out of high school, spent five winters on every national Top 100 list (almost always in the Top 30), debuted in the majors in 2019, and now finally went deep in his 45th game and 146th plate appearance, at age 24.

Oakland handed the ball to Lou Trivino in the 9th, with a three-run lead, and he allowed just a two-run single en route to nailing down the save. He did get a visit from the trainer at one point, but stayed in and finished the game. Apparently he was just winded in the high elevation.

Ride the slope!

Do they have waves in the mountains? Ride the avalanche? Whatever it is, the A’s are back on the upswing with four excellent wins in a row. Tonight they hit for power and got on base 14 times and went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position, or 6-for-10 if you count Chapman’s productive outs. Meanwhile their pitching navigated the thin air admirably, with some strong defense mixed in. That combination will win you a lot of games.