The Oakland A’s spent the last week revamping their lineup, adding three new veteran hitters before the MLB trade deadline, and the results are already beginning to show up.
The A’s blasted the Los Angeles Angels in an 8-3 victory Sunday, with plenty of help from their recent acquisitions. The offensive outburst not only avenged the previous day’s shutout loss and wrapped up a series win in the four-game matchup in Anaheim, but also represented a lot of what we’ve pined to see from this group all summer.
Oakland’s biggest problem at the plate this year has been not getting on base enough. Enter Starling Marte, the new center fielder picked up from the Marlins, who now slots in to the second spot in the lineup. He did his sparkplug job to perfection, reaching base four times (three hits and a walk) and then causing havoc by stealing three bags. He ended up scoring twice.
Starling Marte is the 1st A's player with 3+ hits & 3+ SB in a game since Coco Crisp on Aug 6, 2011— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) August 1, 2021
2nd player to do it in MLB this season, along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa on 6/12
Before 2021, hadn't happened since Sept. 2019
They’ve also struggled at times to push home the runners they do get on base. Enter Yan Gomes, the new catcher picked up from the Nationals, who carries a plus bat and plus defense. This afternoon was his A’s debut, and in his second at-bat he hit a two-run homer. In his third at-bat, he had a runner in scoring position and singled him home. And on the other side of the ball he caught the second career MLB start of a rookie pitcher.
*Yan Gomes has entered the chat* pic.twitter.com/UgaqERonH9— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 1, 2021
Then there’s Josh Harrison, the new utilityman also picked up from the Nationals, who can make lots of contact at the plate and play anywhere on defense. He only went 1-for-5 today in his A’s debut, but he chipped in some quality defense at second base, which in turn allowed Jed Lowrie to play DH against a lefty without needing Tony Kemp to start against the platoon disadvantage.
That A's win was the best first-impression for a new look since Cinderella showed up at the ball.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) August 1, 2021
Oakland fell behind early today, facing a 3-0 deficit after two innings. That was a particularly ominous start amid a low-scoring series that saw the A’s total just six runs through the first three games combined. But the revamped lineup sprang to life in the 3rd inning, and eventually piled on eight unanswered runs.
It began simply enough. Elvis Andrus doinked in a leadoff single, and one out later Marte knocked another single. With the table set, Matt Olson came up and cleared it, launching a three-run homer 407 feet to center.
A few batters later, Gomes added his 421-foot dinger, and suddenly the A’s led 5-3. Two innings later, with runners on first and second and nobody out, Gomes came through again with a single to make it 6-3.
In the 6th, with Mark Canha on first and two out, Marte helped spark one final rally. He singled to push Canha all the way to third base, and then Marte stole the open second base to move himself into scoring position as well. That re-opened first base, which took the bat out of the hands of Olson via intentional walk, but put it into the even clutcher hands of Lowrie. True to form, Lowrie came through with a rocket liner that landed just in front of the left fielder for a two-run single.
By simply keeping the inning going with a single, and then forcing more action on the bases, Marte’s efforts directly led to two extra insurance runs. That’s exactly what this lineup needed more of all year.
VIDEO: Marte caught on camera in Anaheim— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 1, 2021
Please contact us if you have any further information on the whereabouts of the stolen property. pic.twitter.com/sdD4buSGPQ
Yesterday the A’s had nine pieces of contact with triple-digit exit velocity, but it only turned into three hits and they never scored a run. Today they reached triple-digits exactly nine times again, but now it landed for seven hits (including two with enough elevation to become homers) and they piled up eight runs. The two that went for loud outs were both by Harrison. The Angels only hit triple-digits once all day, on their own homer.
Jefferies bears down
Meanwhile, Oakland’s pitching began shaky but settled down quickly.
Top prospect Daulton Jefferies came up from the minors to make the start, just the second of his MLB career. And yet, somehow he was the more experienced arm in today’s matchup, as the Halos called on 2020 draft pick Reid Detmers to make his MLB debut.
In the 1st inning, Jefferies hung a breaking ball and watched it fly for a two-run homer, and in the 2nd he issued a walk and then let the No. 9 batter double the runner home. But then he settled down and retired 10 of his final 12 batters, completing five frames — enough to earn his first MLB win after Detmers couldn’t keep pace against Oakland’s lineup.
- Jefferies: 5 ip, 3 runs, 3 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 3 hits, 86.0 mph EV
The Angels only actually hit the ball hard twice against Jefferies, on the homer and also a deep flyout by Shohei Ohtani. He created most of his own trouble via walks, two of which came around to score. That’s a solid enough season debut for the highly touted rookie out of UC Berkeley, and a nice improvement over his 2020 MLB debut (2 innings, 5 runs). And that sound you heard coming from the stands was one extremely proud mother!
Daulton Jefferies has settled in after giving up 3 runs in first 2 innings. Got Ohtani to hit in a big double play to end a threat in the fifth, getting this reaction from his mom watching. pic.twitter.com/NjrSpc4FOS— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) August 1, 2021
The A’s finished off the game with a showcase of their bullpen. It was Yusmeiro Petit in the 6th, Jake Diekman in the 7th, newcomer lefty Andrew Chafin in the 8th, and Sergio Romo in the 9th, combining to retire 11 of their 13 batters to seal it up.
The A’s needed some midseason help, and they got it. All four of their acquisitions played well today, and the resulting comfortable victory was not a coincidence. This club just got notably better.
So did all the other AL contenders, and Oakland still has tests to pass against tougher competition than a disappointing Angels team that already gave up for the rest of the year. But this was everything we could have wanted to see out of the A’s immediately after their busy trade deadline.