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Game #61: A’s win! Snap 10-game skid with 10-run outburst

So many dingers

Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Guardians
Vogt and Brown both went yard
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The losing streak is over!

The Oakland A’s finally won a game Saturday, in emphatic fashion. Their 10-5 victory over the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field snapped a skid of 10 straight losses.

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

The afternoon got off to a familiarly ominous start. The A’s jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, something they’d done in each of their previous four games only to see the opponent charge back and take over the scoreboard each time. That happened yet again, as the Guardians answered with five runs of their own to go up 5-2.

However, this time Oakland’s lineup kept battling. They piled up five runs in the 7th inning including a grand slam, retaking the lead in the process, and then added some insurance with three more solo homers in the 8th and 9th. The 10 runs proved to be plenty, and the 10-game slide was over.

***

The first half of today’s contest looked like a rerun of the past week. The A’s struck first but then couldn’t keep up as the game dragged on.

A couple of rallies produced RBI singles, one by Christian Bethancourt in the 1st inning and another by Matt Davidson in the 4th (video), giving Oakland a 2-0 lead. But that advantage didn’t hold for long.

A’s starter Frankie Montas cruised through the first three innings, allowing just a single that was later eliminated on a steal attempt. He didn’t stop pitching well after that, but things went terribly wrong in the 4th. Cleveland only hit the ball hard twice during the inning but parlayed that into four hits and four runs thanks to a ton of hustle.

With a runner on first base, a seeing-eye grounder dribbled through the right side and got stretched into a double, capped off by a throwing error to let the runner score from first. Later with a runner on third, Oakland’s first baseman fielded a grounder and whipped a throw home just a split-second too late for the out. The Guardians loaded the bases back up and lofted a sac fly for a run, and then they dropped a squeeze bunt for another run.

Those four runs were charged to Montas, but they were not the result of him pitching poorly. Cleveland put on a fundamental hitting clinic for an entire inning. Later they tacked on another run in the 6th on a pair of solid doubles.

  • Montas: 6 ip, 5 runs, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 8 hits, 91 pitches

Not the right-hander’s best outing, but also not as bad as the box score appears. He didn’t miss bats but he also didn’t allow hard contact or bury himself with walks. When he stepped off the mound he was in line for the loss, but when all was said and done this performance was enough to award him with the win.

***

Today’s rerun episode took a new twist in the 7th inning. We’d already seen the 2-0 lead, and then the opponent’s comeback, but this time the game didn’t end there like it had the past four days.

The A’s led off the 7th with a pair of singles, one of which was nearly a homer by Davidson that crashed off the wall. Cleveland offered a bit of help by throwing away a potential double play ball, which scored a run and kept the rally brewing full force, but their lead was still 5-3.

Oakland would need more than that one gift in order to catch up, and they got it thanks to Seth Brown. They loaded the bases back up, and Brown delivered a grand slam, the first of his career.

Not only was it his first career slam, it was his first hit of any kind with the bases loaded, breaking a lifetime 0-for-10 mark in that department.

Suddenly the A’s were back on top, and they weren’t done slugging. Leading off the 8th inning, Stephen Vogt blasted his second dinger of the year, capping off a day in which he reached base four times (3-for-3 plus a HBP).

In the 9th inning, Bethancourt launched another solo homer, part of his own 3-for-5 day.

And later in the 9th, Sean Murphy added an exclamation point with one final solo shot.

Oakland has three catchers on their roster. All three of them started today (Murph at C, Beth at 1B, Vogt at DH), and all three homered.

Meanwhile, with the lead back in hand, the A’s bullpen took care of business in the late innings. Domingo Acevedo tossed a perfect 7th, A.J. Puk worked around one hit in the 8th, and Dany Jimenez avenged a few recent rough outings with a perfect 9th to seal the save.

***

It seems like forever since Oakland last won a game, last month, back on May 29. The 10 defeats in a row were their longest losing streak since 2011.

Today did bring one catalyst worth mentioning. Before their big go-ahead rally, Ramon Laureano was seen in the dugout screaming to fire up his teammates.

Manager Mark Kotsay spoke about Laureano’s tirade after the game:

“That’s the Ramon I’ve always talked about. My biggest thing is letting guys be themselves, and that’s Ramon being himself. His energy, his passion, his frustrations kind of came out, and I think that was heard loud and clear in that dugout.”

Montas added this about Laureano, via Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:

“I feel like we all kind of needed to hear that. We all needed to hear somebody: ‘Hey, this is enough. Enough is enough.’ And he was the guy that fired everybody up.”

Laureano was also ejected from the game, for arguing too much that he thought the opponent was quick-pitching against one of his teammates. He went 0-for-4 at the plate, but that didn’t stop him from stepping up and providing some leadership moments, much like he did during the 2020 ALDS against the Astros.

***

One step at a time. The A’s are now 21-40, which is still terrible, but today was a good day. It’s only one win in the standings, but it feels like much more after such a long slump, especially with the way they earned it by fighting hard until the end. Victory!