The Oakland A’s have a couple big names in their starting rotation right now, but their hottest arm belongs to Cole Irvin.
The left-hander threw another gem Friday night, this time shutting down the Texas Rangers in a 5-4 victory at the Coliseum.
For six of the first seven innings, Irvin was perfect. He retired his first nine batters of the game, then had a quick spot of trouble in the 4th with a few singles yielding one run, then recovered to mow down another nine straight batters through the end of the 7th. He stuck around for the 8th but was pulled after a leadoff walk, which the bullpen let score in unearned fashion.
- Irvin: 7+ ip, 2 runs (1 earned), 8 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits, 84 pitches
That continues a scorching July for the southpaw. He’s made four starts this month, against the Blue Jays, Astros (twice), and Rangers, and each one has been a beauty. They’ve all lasted at least six innings, with only one or two runs apiece, and the free pass he issued to his final batter tonight was only his second in the entire time span.
- Irvin, last four: 27 ip, 5 er, 18 Ks, 2 BB, 15 hits, 0 HR
This latest effort was especially impressive. The Rangers simply had no answer for Irvin this evening, as he struck out one-third of the batters he faced, and allowed barely any hard contact when they did put wood on the ball.
Oakland’s defense did provide some help along the way. When Texas rallied in the 4th, the threat was cut short by the arm of Ramon Laureano, who nabbed a runner trying to stretch from first to third on a single. Apparently people forgot: Don’t Run On Ramon.
However, after having giveth, the defense did taketh away later in the game.
After Irvin walked the leadoff batter in the 8th, reliever Zach Jackson was called in. Jackson retired the next two batters, then earned a swinging strikeout that should have ended the inning. But the pitch was buried so deeply in the dirt that catcher Sean Murphy could only knock it down, forcing him to make a throw to first base to complete the out, which he short-hopped for an error. That uncharacteristic miscue by the Gold Glover kept the inning going long enough for Marcus Semien to lace an RBI single against his former club.
Fortunately, the A’s offense had already built a big enough lead to withstand that frustrating unearned run.
In the 2nd inning, with runners on first and second, Vimael Machin got the scoring started with an RBI double. It really should have plated two runs, but the ball got stuck under the lip of the wall for about a half-second, which was enough to end the play and call it a ground-rule double. The lead runner still scored from second, but the trail runner was sent back to third base, where he was later stranded. Always annoying when that happens, but them’s the rules.
In the 5th inning they used some muscle to tack on a few more. Laureano blasted a solo homer to the opposite field, then Murphy singled and Seth Brown followed with a monster dinger 424 feet into the distance for another two runs.
Those four runs had the A’s in front for most of the night, and by the middle of the 8th they led 4-2. But Oakland added one more bit of insurance in the bottom of the 8th, on a pinch-hit RBI single by Stephen Vogt, and it’s a good thing they did because that extra run turned out to be the difference in the game.
Now ahead 5-2 entering the 9th inning, Lou Trivino came in for the save, which is always an adventure lately. He retired his first two batters! But then served up a solo homer. Then a walk. Then a sharp single. Then another sharp single, which drove in a run. Ruh-roh.
Trivino was lifted in favor of A.J. Puk. The lefty pegged his first batter, loading the bases, and bringing none other than Semien up to bat. Semien drilled the second pitch he saw, nearly 100 mph in exit velocity, but it went directly at third baseman Machin for a routine third out. Game over. Exhale.
Fun win overall! Irvin was great, the lineup scored a decent amount and hit a couple dingers, and Puk recorded his first career MLB save. Pretty good night at the ballpark!