The Oakland A’s have two players heading to the All-Star Game next week, and they both showed why Sunday in the team’s final game before the break.
The A’s got seven brilliant innings from starter Chris Bassitt, and their lineup hit four solo homers including two by Matt Olson, in a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Oakland finally earns a series win against the last-place Rangers, in their third try this year, and they head into the midseason intermission on a positive note after slumping for the past few weeks.
This was the game you want to see out of your contending team. Their ace starter dominated and never let up. Their lineup put some runs on the board early and then kept adding. And their bullpen locked down the final two frames. No weird stuff went wrong, and the good players did the kinds of good things you expect. It was refreshingly undramatic.
Oakland got started quickly, with back-to-back homers in the 2nd, courtesy of Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy. It’s the second straight day the A’s went back-to-back in precisely the 2nd inning, and it’s also the second straight day that both of these players went deep. Lowrie’s traveled 417 feet.
Murphy was the front-end of the back-to-back jacks yesterday, and the back-end of them today. Versatility!
That gave the A’s a 2-0 lead, but they didn’t rest on it. In the 4th, All-Star first baseman Matt Olson went yard to give fans a sneak preview of his upcoming Home Run Derby performance tomorrow.
Matt Olson is Home Run Derby ready pic.twitter.com/tDMPzMFGZU— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 11, 2021
In Olson’s next at-bat in the 6th inning, he did it again. Oakland now led 4-0.
Solo homers aren’t usually the best foundation for an offense, but they sure worked out this afternoon. The A’s only reached base three other times, on a double, a single, and an error, and one of their runners was caught stealing. The rally wasn’t coming, as it often hasn’t lately, so they found another way to score.
Best In Show
Four runs aren’t always enough to win, but they were today thanks to their other All-Star, Chris Bassitt. The Hound demonstrated today why he’s in contention for Best In Show in the American League.
- Bassitt: 7 ip, 1 run, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 4 hits, 94 pitches, 84.3 mph EV
The right-hander retired nine of his first 10 batters, and seven of his final eight. In between the Rangers got to him once, in the 5th inning, with a single and an RBI double. That was all, and the double was the hardest-hit ball against him all day. He’s now faced Texas three times this year, with seven innings in each start and a total of two runs allowed; other than his shutout of the Angels, those are his three best outings of the season.
The bullpen nailed down the final two innings, with Yusmeiro Petit in the 8th, and All-Star-Snub Lou Trivino in the 9th. It wasn’t completely free of suspense, but no runs scored.
Jonah Heim gave this one a ride but the A's get the W to go 52-40 at the break pic.twitter.com/5PDC1tAmzI— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 11, 2021
It’s been a tough few weeks for the A’s, and this road trip to the Lone Star State began poorly in Houston. But they grabbed a couple wins in Arlington to get the wave going in the right direction again, and now they get to rest for a few days, or at least 24 of them do. Today they looked exactly like a contending team squishing a last-place doormat, and that’s everything we could have hoped for heading into the break.
Oakland is 52-40, in second Wild Card position, just 3.5 games back in the AL West division.