The A’s won on Tuesday night at the Coliseum, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 in the second game of the series.
Their rookie starting pitcher bounced back from a rough previous outing and was solid for five innings while the offense jumped all over an erratic Seattle starter and worked five walks in the first three frames. That helps explain how the A’s won this game while getting outhit 10-4. Isn’t baseball interesting?
A pair of walks to leadoff the game from Nick Allen and Ramon Laureano helped the A’s jump on Seattle starting pitcher Yusei Kikiuchi early. Christian Bethancourt put a good swing on a 1-2 pitch and lined it up the middle to bring in the first run of the game for the good guys:
Christian Bethancourt gets the A's on the board first. pic.twitter.com/6ErHtQwxPr— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 6, 2022
A quick groundball double play from Sean Murphy helped put a damper on Oakland’s early rally, but not before Laureano came in to score for the second run of the inning, giving Oakland’s rookie starter a 2-run lead after one.
That wouldn’t last long. After starting pitcher Adrian Martinez had a crisp 8-pitch 1-2-3 top of the first, former Athletic Matt Chapman came up with a runner on in the second and punished a sinker that didn’t sink, sending the pitch into the center field camera box for a two-run home run to tie this game. Martinez bounced back in the third for another 1-2-3 inning, including a couple strikeouts and a nice pick-and-throw from Sheldon Neuse at third base.
The bottom of the third saw more offense for the A’s against Kikuchi. A leadoff Allen single followed by back-to-back hit batters to Laureano and Bethancourt loaded the bases for Murphy. He put a solid drive on the ball and hit it deep enough to right field to bring in Allen for his second RBI of the day:
Another walk, this one to Stephen Piscotty, reloaded the bases and prompted Toronto manager Charlie Montoya to go to the bullpen far earlier than he probably hoped. His hand was somewhat forced though as Kikuchi walked 5 batters and hit two more in less than three innings. He clearly didn’t have control of his arsenal tonight, and the A’s took advantage. A 4-pitch bases-loaded walk to Chad Pinder from the reliever brought in the final run of the rally and gave Oakland another 2-run lead.
And again, Martinez couldn’t give Oakland a shutdown inning. A one-out bomb from Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth cut the lead in half and back-to-back two-out singles put the go-ahead run on base. After a quick mound visit, Martinez got a pop up down the right field line that looked like it would land in that Bermuda Triangle area behind first and fall in for a hit. With two outs and the runners going, at least one and maybe both runs score if that ball drops. Piscotty made sure that didn’t happen, though, making a sick diving catch by the right field line to end the inning. Huge doesn’t describe that catch.
Oakland showed off some more defense the very next inning when Murphy gunned down Bo Bichette trying to steal second base to end the top of the fifth:
It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em. pic.twitter.com/PTOQhFLqsA— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 6, 2022
The A’s added on another run in the bottom half of the frame thanks to Piscotty’s second home run this year, a blast to left that even the pitcher knew was gone off the bat:
With a two-run lead, manager Mark Kotsay wanted to squeeze just a bit more from the rookie who was only at 78 pitches, sending him back out for the start of the sixth. That turned out to be the wrong call as Martinez allowed back-to-back singles to open the frame. Kotsay didn’t wait around after that to make a change, bringing in lefty A.J. Puk to face the left-handed batter due up.
- Adrian Martinez: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 86 pitches
Not a bad start, and certainly better than his previous one. This snuggles in somewhere in between his first and second. This was easily his biggest challenge yet, though, facing off against a top-scoring offense with Toronto’s lineup full of above-average hitters. All five of his strikeouts were swinging on his changeup, which was working to perfection tonight.
So with Puk coming in and a big at-bat coming up in this game, Toronto turned to their secret weapon. After not starting the game, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. pinch hit here in a critical spot representing the go-ahead run. The first pitch looked like he gave Toronto the lead, but he got too under it and flew out harmlessly to left field.
Chapman, on the other hand, came up after Vlad Jr. and came through for Toronto, lining a pitch into left-center that looked certain to score a run. The A’s needed a perfect relay, and that’s just what they did, showing off some nice defense yet again:
Puk struck out the next batter to end the inning, and Domingo Acevedo and Zach Jackson had clean seventh and eighth innings, respectively.
With a two-run lead, Kotsay turned to Lou Trivino to lock down the win for Oakland. Coming off his first blown save of the year last Saturday, he struck out Vlad Jr., got Chapman to fly out, allowed an infield single to add a little drama, and a groundout to end this game and secure his sixth save of the year.
The wins haven’t always been there this year, but Kotsay has done a good job of encouraging these guys to bring their best effort to the ballpark on a consistent basis. That’s one of the biggest things a manager can do during a rebuilding season when motivation can be hard to find. He did learn from the best, after all.
So the A’s win their first home series since the first one. Adrian Martinez earns his second career win in his first home start, the defense flashed the leather all night, and Oakland wins an odd game where they got out-hit on a massive scale 10-4. That’s now two straight games Oakland has scored 5 runs, and both have resulted in wins.
The series win is only the team’s second in the past month, and it sets them up for a chance for their first sweep of the season. They’ll be hoping James Kaprielian can stay hot and get them that sweep tomorrow afternoon at the Coliseum. Let’s go A’s!