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Game #6: Murphy, Montas lead A’s to 4-2 win

Frankie with a gem in his second start

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s won a close one on Wednesday evening, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.

A stellar starting performance from Frankie Montas came at the perfect time for a recently overused bullpen. Sean Murphy got his first home run of the season to lead the offense. And Lou Trivino bounced back from yesterday’s outing to nail down the win and get his first save of the year, although not without a little scare there in the 9th.

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Things didn’t start smoothly for Montas’ evening. After the A’s went down in order to start the game, his first pitch of the day was smacked to center field for a single with the runner making it to second before Montas got the next three batters, with a little help from his defense for the final out:

More trouble would find him again in the second after surrendering back-to-back leadoff singles, but again he would wiggle out of the jam.

The top of the third saw Oakland break through against a dealing Shane McClanahan and get on the board in a major way. On an evening where the offense only collected 5 hits, the A’s desperately needed one of those to be big. And they got that big hit off the bat of catcher Sean Murphy:

Staked to a three run lead, Montas would settle in. After allowing those two singles in the 2nd, he would go on to retire 15 of next 16 Rays, with the one hit being a hanging slider to Ji-Man Choi for a 4th inning home run.

The Rays really wish they had gotten to him more early when he was struggling, because Montas found his groove and just started showing off at one point:

  • Frankie Montas: 6 13 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 89 pitches (61 strikes)

Major credit to #FilthyFrankie for todays’ outing. After the overreliance on the bullpen in last night’s affair, Oakland needed length from him and he delivered while also holding down what should be a potent Rays offense.

Montas spoke after the game about his performance:

The A’s would add an insurance run in the top of the 7th started by a leadoff Elvis Andrus double into the left field corner. Two outs later, Cristian Pache would stride to the plate and pick up the first of many with the A’s:

It’s going to get harder and harder to justify demoting Pache when Ramon Laureano returns, but it’s a good problem to have and A’s fans are going to love seeing those two in center and right field at some point in the very near future.

Montas would end his day with a nasty strikeout after allowing a leadoff single in the bottom half of the frame followed by a Sheldon Neuse error at second, departing the game at 89 pitches and responsible for those two base runners. Lefty Kirby Snead came on in relief and got a strikeout before inducing a weak pop up that fell in no-man’s land between Pache and Neuse and brought in the Rays’ 2nd run of the day, charged to Montas.

Righty Zach Jackson came on for the 8th, getting two quick outs before a walk and single put the tying run on base. Scary stuff, considering what we were all witnesses to yesterday. Jackson was having none of it, though, striking out Rays’ #2 prospect Josh Lowe to end the inning and preserve the late lead.

Then it was redemption time. After his closer allowed a win to slip away yesterday, Mark Kotsay put Lou Trivino right back on the metaphorical horse and sent him out for the 9th to face the 7-8-9 holes in the Rays’ lineup. Again, some excitement after two quick outs were followed by a single and a walk to once again put the tying run on base and Wander Franco walking up to the dish, prompting Kotsay to get Dany Jimenez throwing in the bullpen. An aggressive Franco swung at the first pitch, popping it up in foul territory with just enough room for third baseman Kevin Smith:

It was good to see Trivino bounce back after last night, and even better that he didn’t have to stew in it for too long!

With Trivino’s first save of the season, the A’s were back to .500 through 6 games and haven’t looked as bad as what a long of people expected. It’s a small sample size, obviously, but there is talent spread out on this roster, even with the trades of the big-time stars. It’s exciting getting to watch young players blossom before your eyes!

All in all a great A’s win. If Oakland can come out of this 10-game road trip at .500, that would be huge for this team moving forward. Oakland will finish off the 4-game series bright and early tomorrow morning, with left-hander Cole Irvin on tap for the start. See you all then!

Notes:

  • Shortstop Elvis Andrus continues to look like a different player compared to last year, hitting the ball harder and getting more extra base hits. If he keeps this up the A’s might end up trading him (a joke, but not really).
  • On the other side of the coin, Chad Pinder struggled out of the leadoff spot today, going 0-4 with 3 K’s.
  • It wasn’t any better for Seth Brown this evening, striking out in all four of his plate appearances.
  • Reliever Deolis Guerra underwent successful Tommy John surgery today, ending any hope of seeing the righty this season.
  • While Kevin Smith is still searching for his first hit with the A’s, he’s not letting it affect his glove, making this slick play in the top of the 9th in addition to his nice catch in the 1st: