It’s a doubleheader split!
The Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers played two on Thursday at the Coliseum, and after dropping the first game earlier this afternoon, the A’s bounced back in the second game to earn a 5-0 victory and salvage a split.
The first half of the twin-bill wasn’t pretty for Oakland, resulting in a 7-2 loss, but they sharpened up in the sequel. Six pitchers combined to toss a shutout, allowing just four hits, two walks, and barely any hard contact. On the other side of the ball the A’s lineup only scored in one inning, but they made it count with five runs in the 6th, which turned out to be plenty.
The top storyline entering the game was the return of starting pitcher Frankie Montas, and he looked strong. The star right-hander was on a short leash after missing three weeks to shoulder inflammation, and indeed he only worked three innings, but his velocity was good and he struck out five of the 12 batters he faced.
- Montas: 3 ip, 0 runs, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 2 hits, 53 pitches
He came out of the gate firing, beginning the day with five fastballs that dialed up as high as 98.0 mph. He hit 98 several more times throughout the first two innings, before settling down into the 96 range in the 3rd inning. It wasn’t a long outing, but he appeared healthy and effective.
Frankie Montas returned after a couple missed starts but looked good, touching 98 mph and getting 5 Ks in 3 IP (53 pitches) pic.twitter.com/ce7YbsKWSN— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 22, 2022
The bullpen took over from there, and they were darn near perfect the rest of the way.
- Austin Pruitt threw two scoreless innings, allowing only a walk.
- Domingo Acevedo retired the side in order in the 6th inning, with two strikeouts.
- A.J. Puk allowed two singles in the 7th but got out of it with a double play.
- Sam Moll tossed a perfect 8th inning.
- Lou Trivino retired three of his four batters to wrap things up.
That’s the sixth shutout thrown by Oakland’s staff this year, and the defense chipped in some plays too.
Meanwhile, the A’s lineup took care of their own business in the 6th inning.
Up to that point Oakland hadn’t done much at the plate either, with only a few scattered baserunners, and the scoreboard was still empty. But they led off the 6th with a pair of singles, and then Sean Murphy got a hanging breaking ball and unloaded on it. His 447-foot blast went into a suite in center field, for a mammoth three-run homer.
The A’s weren’t done. After Murphy’s monster dinger, they built two more rallies before the inning was over.
- Seth Brown singled and eventually made his way around on a sac fly by Stephen Vogt.
- Then with two outs and the bases empty, Dermis Garcia hit a soft comeback liner toward the mound. Reliever (and former Athletic!) Andrew Chafin got a glove on the ball but couldn’t quite squeeze it, then picked it back up only to make an errant throw to first base, and when the dust settled Garcia was on second with a single and an error. Tony Kemp followed with a single to drive him home.
All of that added up to a five-run inning, one big crooked number amid a sea of zeroes on both sides of the ledger.
Unfortunately the victory comes with a bittersweet takeaway, that Montas’ successful return raises the chance he could be traded away in the next couple weeks before the annual deadline. But let’s set that aside for another day. Right now we can enjoy that Montas looked healthy, Murphy hit the absolute crap out of a ball, and the A’s won a game.