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Game #36: A’s lose 9-1 in nightcap, earn split in doubleheader

A split is a good result!

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics - Game Two
Ohtani hit his 100th career homer
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

A sweep today would have been fun, but a split will do!

The Oakland A’s lost the nightcap of their Saturday doubleheader against the Angels at the Coliseum, falling 9-1 in a game that went out of control quickly and never got back on track.

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

The A’s began the day with a dramatic comeback walk-off victory in the first half of the doubleheader, and you can click here to read the full recap of that contest. That opening win guaranteed at least a split in today’s twin-bill, which would be a productive result against one of the hottest teams in the league, with the chance for an upset sweep.

As it turned out, Oakland indeed settled for that split, as they weren’t able to hold down the Halos powerful lineup again in the second game. Rookie pitcher Adam Oller was called up to make an emergency start, and he got knocked around for five runs in the 2nd inning and three more in the 5th. Meanwhile, the A’s bats pounced for one early run but then went silent for the final eight frames, reaching third base just once during that span.

***

The 1st inning was so promising! Oller retired the side on 10 pitches, and Oakland needed only three batters to score their first run of the game. Tony Kemp doubled, Sheldon Neuse singled him over to third, and Jed Lowrie bounced into a double play to push home Kemp. A quick lead!

Then it all went sideways. Oller led off the 2nd by loading the bases and walking in a run, then he almost worked out of the jam but instead served up a grand slam. He settled down for a couple innings after that, but in the 5th the Angels struck again, this time with a pair of doubles and a dinger by Shohei Ohtani, the 100th of his MLB career. Mercy.

  • Oller: 5 ip, 8 runs, 3 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HR, 6 hits, 95 pitches

This was Oller’s fourth MLB start, and he’s been roughed up each time. Manager Mark Kotsay cited shaky fastball command as a culprit tonight (watch full interview), and Oller agreed that falling behind in counts led him to “hurt himself more than he got hurt” (watch full interview).

However, don’t ignore that one of the right-hander’s objectives today was to eat innings in the backend of a doubleheader during a stretch when the pitching staff has to cover 12 games in 10 days. He took the loss when a win would have been cooler, but crucially he put in his five frames, and only two relievers (Justin Grimm and Adam Kolarek) were needed to finish out the garbage time. It might not seem like a big deal now, but thanks to Oller’s effort the bullpen will be that much fresher the next four days when they need it.

Meanwhile, the A’s lineup didn’t have another comeback in them tonight. They singled to lead off the 3rd, but grounded into a double play. They singled to lead off the 4th, but grounded into a double play. They stranded a single in the 5th, then led off the 8th with a double and a walk but stranded those too. They singled to lead off the 9th but grounded into yet another double play, their fourth of the game, and their eighth of the day after hitting into four in the afternoon game.

One bright side was Luis Barrera, the walk-off hero of the first game. The rookie outfielder followed his afternoon homer by reaching base three more times tonight, with two singles and a walk. But not much else went right for Oakland.

In other words, this was a stinker, one of the more thorough losses of the season. But they still got a split for the day! It’s also a nice reminder that this is only the fifth time they’ve lost by more than four runs, out of 21 defeats so far. Go get ‘em tomorrow in the series finale!