The Oakland A’s squeaked out a close 2-1 win against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night, thanks to the strength of their pitching and defense on a cold night at the Coliseum.
The lineup was held in check for most of the game by a pitcher just brought up to the Majors today, but sometimes all it takes is one big hit at the perfect moment. The starting pitching was solid and the bullpen was lights out as the A’s moved to 2 games above the .500 mark.
Starting pitcher Cole Irvin did not have it today, allowing baserunners in each of his five innings today. That said, the lefty fought hard all night and ultimately allowed just a first inning run and nothing else, laboring to keep Oakland in it. He could have easily given up more had the A’s defense taken the night off.
As it was, the gloves came to play tonight. Cristian Pache in particular continues to make absurd plays on what is seeming like a daily basis. In the second inning he saved a run thanks to a jumping catch at the wall that popped in and out of his glove. Just look:
The offense on the other hand was struggling. Orioles starter Chris Ellis wasn’t especially sharp himself, walking three Oakland batters and allowing four hits in his 4+ innings of work, but like Irvin on the other side, was able to get a couple key outs when he needed them. The A’s lineup went 1-for-10 with RISP today, including a couple rally-killing double plays.
Working into the fifth inning, Irvin was at 93 pitches and in a bind. Mark Kotsay walked out to the mound, with everyone sure that the bullpen was coming in. Instead, Kotsay left Irvin in to face Austin Hayes in a two-on, two-out situation, an identical situation that Irvin faced to finish the third. It was the same result, with Hayes grounding into a force out to end the threat and Irvin's day.
- Cole Irvin: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 95 pitches
Again, to power through for five quality innings when you clearly don’t have your best stuff, you almost have to be impressed by Irvin’s performance today, even if the final line doesn’t jump out at you.
Kotsay leaving Irvin in the game in the hopes he could earn a win must have given the lineup a jolt. In his second career at-bat, Nick Allen reached base for the first time! No, it wasn’t a hit, instead reaching thanks to a throwing error, but hey, it’s better than nothing in your Major League debut.
A Sheldon Neuse single put runners at the corners with 1 out and forced the Orioles to go to the bullpen. It worked out for the O’s, as Sean Murphy came up next and grounded into a double play to end the frame and the rally. Irvin could not get the win, but at least the A’s were into the Baltimore bullpen.
The A’s took advantage the very next inning. A Christian Bethancourt single and an Elvis Andrus walk brought up Seth Brown with 1 out in the sixth, down a run:
That two-run double put the A’s on top and completely changed the vibe of the game. On a night when the A’s were struggling with scoring chances, of course it took the A’s best hitter in that department to get it done. Brownie is now 6-for-10 on the young season with runners in scoring position while hitting only .194. At least he’s making his hits count.
The A’s had an MLB debut in the top of the 6th when Zach Logue, one of the players acquired in the Matt Chapman trade, came on in relief of Irvin and struck out his first batter on his way to a clean inning for his first appearance.
As a COVID replacement and thought of as a future starter, Logue isn’t long for the bullpen right now, but he showed some good pitches in his outing today. The lefty came back out for the 7th and get the first out before a single and walk prompted Kotsay to turn back to the bullpen again.
Another arm recently recalled as a COVID replacement, righty Ryan Castellani got a force out and a pop out in foul territory that was caught on a nice play by Bethancourt at first base to end the inning. Castellani pitched a clean 8th as well, but not without a scare. Luckily Oakland has a certain center fielder:
Cristian Pache catches everything pic.twitter.com/Tyuw5glfio— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 20, 2022
With the score still 2-1 in the 9th inning, Kotsay turned to Sam Moll. The left-hander sandwiched two strikeouts around a single to former A’s prospect Jorge Mateo, putting a speedy runner on base as the tying run and the top of the Orioles lineup coming up. A ball in the gap would blow the save, so there was no margin for error.
Kotsay made another change. This time it was Zach Jackson’s turn to nail down the win and that’s just what he did, striking out Anthony Santander to pick up his first career save.
- A’s bullpen: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K
Hey it’s another A’s win, right? The pitching was solid, the defense was great, and the offense did just enough to eke out the win. It wasn’t pretty, but it was exciting.
The A’s have now won two in a row, their record is 7-5, and the team is tied with the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the AL West. Zach Logue looked good and got his first Major League win, and Zach Jackson got his first Major League save. Cristian Pache continues to look like a Gold Glove candidate, and Kotsay pushed all the right buttons with his pitching staff tonight.
The A’s pushed up tomorrow’s game time due to rain in the forecast. First pitch is now set for 3:07 p.m. PST, with Daulton Jefferies set to go in the third game of this 4-game set. See you all tomorrow!