How hot are the Oakland A’s right now? It’s getting historic.
They swept the Cleveland Indians this week, on the road, to run their win streak to seven games, which is all wonderful! But that’s just regular hot. We’ve seen the A’s do things like that before, and so have fans of every team.
The historic part is how the A’s won those three contests in Cleveland, because that’s the part we’ve never seen before, no matter how long you’ve been a fan of the club.
In the series opener Tuesday, starter Sean Manaea didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning, leaving the bullpen to cover the rest of the evening. Making the task even more difficult, the game went to extra innings, meaning the relievers needed to cobble together 8⅓ frames to make it through the end of the 10th. And they delivered in a big way.
- A’s bullpen, Tue: 8⅓, 0 runs, 1 hit, 5 Ks, 3 BB, 99 pitches
Six pitchers combined to completely shut down Cleveland, not only keeping them scoreless but allowing just one hit on a groundball single. On top of all that, they also stranded two inherited runners that Manaea had left for them.
That performance was unique in A’s franchise history, dating back 121 years. Never before has the Athletics bullpen worked so long in one game and allowed the opponent to do so little.
First time in #Athletics franchise history the bullpen throws at least 8.1 innings, allows 1 hit or fewer and allows no runs.— David Feldman (@dfeldy) August 11, 2021
1920 vs Cle....Eddie Rommel threw 8.2 in relief but allowed a HR for his only hit.
1958 at CWS - Bullpen threw 8.1 but allowed a HR for only hit.
The first arm out of the pen was Burch Smith, who cleaned up Manaea’s jam and then stayed on for three more innings of brilliant long relief. Then top prospect A.J. Puk, who was just called back up from the minors that morning, came in for his second MLB appearance of the season and the 12th of his entire career, and the lefty threw fire for a quick three outs.
By then it was getting to the late innings, so the usual setup crew took over. Yusmeiro Petit handled the 7th, Sergio Romo took the 8th, and Lou Trivino nailed the 9th, all hitless. But with the scoreboard still tied, they needed one extra frame, so new acquisition Andrew Chafin sealed it for his first save of the year.
- Smith: 3⅓ ip, 0 runs, 2 Ks, 1 hit, 40 pitches
- Puk: 1 ip, 0 runs, 2 Ks, 11 pitches
- Petit: 1 ip, 0 runs, 9 pitches
- Romo: 1 ip, 0 runs, 2 BB, 22 pitches
- Trivino: 1 ip, 0 runs, 1 BB, 10 pitches
- Chafin: 1 ip, 0 runs, 1 K, 7 pitches
The A’s offense did their part, battling back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up and then take a 4-3 lead in extras. But they only had that chance because the bullpen put in an all-time great effort to keep the game within reach — with a hat tip to the team’s infield defense, which helped out with a great play in each of the 8th, 9th, and 10th to rob potential scoring opportunities.
After their comeback win Tuesday, and then another comeback win Wednesday, Oakland didn’t leave anything to chance in the finale Thursday. The lineup exploded, scoring early and often and putting up crooked numbers in five different innings. By the end they’d piled 17 runs on the board.
At the same time, the pitching staff was busy shutting out the Indians. Starter Chris Bassitt worked six innings and the bullpen took care of the rest, limiting Cleveland to just three hits and three walks.
We’ve seen 17 runs before. We’ve seen shutouts before. But we’ve never seen both in the same game, as this set the franchise record for the most lopsided margin in a shutout victory. The A’s have never quite thumped another team this hard on both sides of the ball.
The A's 17-0 win at Cleveland today was the largest margin of victory in a shutout in Athletics history...had six 16-0 wins, including three in Oakland, one in Kansas City and two in Philadelphia.— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) August 12, 2021
Oakland scored three runs in the 2nd, two in the 4th, five in the 5th, two in the 6th, four in the 8th, and then one more in the 9th to set the record. That final tally was a homer by Mitch Moreland, his second solo shot of the game. Nobody else went deep, as the rest of the damage was done with clutch rallies and a 7-for-21 mark with runners in scoring position. Everybody chipped in something — including Cleveland’s pitchers, thanks to 13 free passes (10 walks and three HBPs).
Speaking of those free passes on Thursday, quite a few of them went to one batter in particular. Matt Chapman drew five walks in that game, in each of his first five plate appearances, before finally striking out in his sixth (meaningless) trip to the plate.
Turns out that’s a record too! Although he only tied it.
OAKLAND A's MOST WALKS, GAME— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) August 12, 2021
5 Matt Chapman, Aug. 12, 2021
5 Mark McGwire, April 26, 1997
5 Jose Canseco, Aug. 4, 1992
5 Rickey Henderson, April 8, 1982
5 Billy North, Sept. 17, 1973
The tweet mentions Oakland history, but the franchise record is also five. Just add these names from the Kansas City and Philadelphia days, respectively:
- Wayne Causey, Sept. 6, 1965
- Max Bishop, May 21, 1930
- Max Bishop, April 29, 1929
The 1930 entry for Bishop has an extra footnote. It came in the first game of a doubleheader, and then in the second game he walked three more times, for a total of eight walks in one day. That’s still a current MLB record.
But in terms of just one game? Chapman’s five match the Athletics franchise mark.
That’s one record on Tuesday, and two on Thursday, but what about the middle game on Wednesday?
The action on the field was plenty of fun, as Oakland made another late comeback and Jed Lowrie drove in the game-winning run for the second straight night. But for a true franchise record, we need to look off the field.
The game was delayed nearly an hour by rain, and while they were waiting, the A’s challenged the Indians to a game of Connect 4 on Twitter. The competition raged for 91 minutes, and Oakland emerged victorious.
That makes us 2-0 one game into this series— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 12, 2021
Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs don’t appear to keep stats for this, so as near as I can tell, I’m unaware of the A’s ever engaging in an official game of Connect 4 with another MLB club. That would make this their first victory in a game of Connect 4 against an MLB club. Franchise record!