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Game #96: Cole Irvin outlasts Shohei Ohtani, A’s win 4-1

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Ramon Laureano with the clutch homer!

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

On an evening in which Shohei Ohtani started on the mound as his team’s pitcher and tossed six scoreless innings, while also batting second in their lineup and ripping a double to the wall, the show was stolen by Cole Irvin.

The Oakland A’s lefty out-dueled his All-Star counterpart, tossing seven scoreless frames en route to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum. The go-ahead runs came in the 7th inning, immediately after Ohtani was lifted for a reliever, while Irvin stuck around long enough to earn the win.

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

The first six inning were silent. The A’s got just three hits off Ohtani, and one of those was a lucky bloop double. The bloop helped them get their only runner to third base, and with just one out on the board, but he was stranded when a high-contact hitter struck out (Andrus) and a flyball hitter grounded out (Olson).

  • Ohtani: 6 ip, 0 runs, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits, 96 pitches, 82.4 mph EV

Meanwhile, the Angels were equally hapless against Irvin. Well, obviously David Fletcher reached base three times, as per the bylaws of the MLB rulebook when he faces Oakland, but the Halos couldn’t build on it.

  • Irvin: 7+ ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 7 hits, 84 pitches, 89.9 mph EV

They got close in the 3rd inning, when Fletcher singled and Ohtani drilled a double to the wall in center field. But Ramon Laureano hustled and got the ball in to his cutoff man extremely quickly, and shortstop Elvis Andrus delivered a perfect relay throw home to nab Fletcher at the plate, with catcher Sean Murphy capping it off with an astute block and tag for the out.

Having already failed to score the run, the Angels made matters worse by challenging the call. I’m not sure what they were hoping for, as the the play itself wasn’t remotely close, and Murphy had the ball so far in advance of the runner that there’s no precedent for calling that he was illegally in the running lane. This was a complete waste of their challenge, and it came back to bite the Halos two innings later — in the 5th, the umps did miss a call at first base that would have been easily overturned, but L.A. could no longer ask for a review after having been wrong once.

In the end, Ohtani’s line turned out slightly better than Irvin’s in terms of dominance, with more strikeouts and fewer hits and weaker contact. But Irvin was more efficient in earning his zeroes, and that allowed him to work one inning longer and thus ask for one fewer inning from his bullpen. That longevity made the difference, and it’s why he won the duel.

The Angels called on reliever Steve Cishek in the 7th, and Oakland pounced immediately. Cishek was all over the place and walked his first two batters, and with a prime opportunity in front of him, Laureano delivered again just like he had on defense earlier tonight. Cishek laid a meatball up in the zone, and Laser blasted it for a three-run homer.

After two hours of a brilliant pitcher’s duel, it took only three batters — and one piece of contact — for the Angels bullpen to fully implode.

In the 8th, Matt Olson added another dinger for insurance, this one a solo shot to make it a 4-0 game. The launch angle was a towering 40 degrees, and it appeared to go over the foul pole.

Oakland only needed two innings out of their own pen, thanks to Irvin’s extra effort, and they got the whole thing from one reliever.

Closer Lou Trivino, who hadn’t pitched in a week, breezed through the 8th and gutted through the 9th. The Halos doubled home a run in the final frame to bust the shutout at the last minute, and they did bring the tying run to the plate when Andrus clanked a chance at a game-ending grounder, but Trivino prevailed. The final play of the game was a foulout in which third baseman Matt Chapman sprinted full speed 105 feet into the wall to make an incredible catch.

That’s how you grab a win!

Oh-for-2

This is the second time Ohtani has pitched against the A’s this year, and Oakland has won both games. He started the All-Star Game, but he’s 0-for-2 in the Bay.

Need some encouragement amid a tough month for A’s fans? Tonight one of their mid-rotation arms out-dueled a superstar pitcher, while their closer got six outs and their lineup hit a pair of homers. They got the clutch hit with runners on base in Laureano’s long ball, and overall the struggling Laureano had a vintage Laser Show game with a key run-saving defensive highlight and the go-ahead dinger in the same evening. Both Matts made their marks too.

It was lots of the things we’ve been aching to see from Oakland lately, and this time it was plenty to earn the win instead of falling one play short. Great game!