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Game #123: A’s new hitters lead 4-1 victory over Giants

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Harrison, Marte, and Gomes, oh my!

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics
J-Hay!
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

In the first half of the 2021 Bay Bridge Series back in June, the San Francisco Giants took two of three from the Oakland A’s. But the A’s lineup looks quite a bit different this time around.

Oakland got contributions from all three of the new hitters they acquired in July, leading to a 4-1 victory over the Giants at the Coliseum. The season series is now even at two apiece.

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

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble through the first three innings, but in the 4th the A’s got the scoring started. After a leadoff walk, new catcher Yan Gomes did his job as a lefty-masher by blasting a double off the wall in left field. Two batters later, new super-sub Josh Harrison blooped a single up the middle to knock home both runners from scoring position.

It wasn’t a hard hit, but in this situation just about any contact to the outfield was going to yield at least one run. Harrison makes as much contact as almost anybody in the majors, and he came through when needed here.

The Giants got one of those runs back in the 5th on a solo homer, narrowing the score to 2-1, but the A’s didn’t settle for that precarious one-run advantage. They tacked on some insurance in the 7th inning thanks to new outfield sparkplug Starling Marte, as well as some help from San Francisco.

Once again a leadoff walk started the rally, but the next two batters couldn’t build on it, bringing up Marte with a runner on first and two out. A wild pitch moved the runner to second, and just as importantly it meant the first baseman wasn’t still positioned near the line to hold the runner on the bag. On the 2-2 pitch, Marte punched a grounder down the 1B line and into right field, good for an RBI double.

But Marte wasn’t done. The Giants made a call to the bullpen after that hit, and before the new reliever even threw a pitch Marte was already running. Lefty Jose Alvarez hadn’t quite started his motion yet when Marte broke for third base, allowing Alvarez to whirl around, step off, and throw over for what should have been an easy out. But Alvarez threw it away, and Marte was not only safe at third but also trotted home to score.

Make it 14-for-14 on stolen bases for Marte in 20 games for Oakland. By all rights he should have been caught on this one, but it’s also a nice reminder that hustling and forcing the opponent to make plays can be a valuable strategy — and even when it goes wrong, sometimes it still goes right.

The A’s scored four tonight. In terms of driving them in, two RBI went to Harrison, one to Marte, and the other was unearned and didn’t count as an RBI but was still created by Marte. And Harrison’s two-run hit was set up by Gomes’ double. The whole trio of trade acquisitions combined for five of the team’s six hits, to go with all the RBI and half of the runs scored.

Harrison even nailed the post-game quote, via insider Martin Gallegos: “My first time playing in this Bay series, it was exciting looking up and seeing a full crowd. A little more black and orange than I probably would have liked. But it’s always better when you get the last laugh with the victory.”

Pitching

While not completely devoid of drama, the A’s pitching was able to keep the Giants at bay all night.

Starter James Kaprielian gave S.F. a taste of what Oakland’s offense has experienced lately. He allowed a pair of singles in the 2nd inning but stranded them thanks to a brilliant catch in deep CF by Marte. He walked the bases loaded in the 3rd but stranded them on another sharp lineout to Marte. He issued a leadoff walk in the 4th but eliminated it in a double play. And then in the 5th he allowed a solo homer.

  • Kaprielian: 5 ip, 1 run, 4 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 3 hits, 92 pitches, 88.2 mph EV

Sound familiar? The Giants couldn’t find the big hit with RISP, and when they finally did blast one there was nobody on base to enjoy it. Meanwhile, Oakland only hit the ball hard three times all night (Gomes and Marte doubles, plus a loud lineout) but maximized the damage.

All that traffic meant Kaprielian’s pitch count went up quickly, so the bullpen needed to chip in four innings to finish it off, but the relievers got it done much more efficiently. Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit combined to retire six straight batters, and then former Giant Sergio Romo breezed through the 8th inning with just a meaningless single. Lou Trivino allowed a two-out single in the 9th on his way to sealing the save. That’s 12 out of 14 batters retired by the bullpen, and a wonderfully stress-free end to a big matchup.

Big win

San Francisco has the best record in the majors, so this a big win before even considering any local rivalry implications. And while the Bay Bridge Series is tied for the year, this current version of the A’s with all their new hitters now stands 1-0 against the Giants.