The Oakland A’s went into their regular season finale trying to accomplish three things: the first was to take the season series against the Angels, the second was to end the regular season with a two game win streak, and third was to head into the offseason on a high note. Unfortunately, Angels starting pitcher Carson Fulmer and first baseman Brandon Drury had other plans.
JP Sears made all thirty-two starts this season, but despite the incredible accomplishment Sears was unable make a positive impact in his final start of the season. Brandon Drury took Sears deep to left field for a solo homer and put the Angels on the board first. The Angels led 1-0 heading into the second inning and never looked back.
Sears bounced back after giving up the homer in the first and retired the side in the second. Nick Allen led off the third inning with a single to center field. Esteury Ruiz grounded into a force out that got Nick Allen out at second. Ruiz was caught in a pickoff, but a balk was called and he was safe at second. On the next pitch, Ruiz stole third and Logan O’Hoppe couldn’t make the throw in time. With that stolen base, Ruiz broke the American League rookie stolen base record with an incredible sixty-seven stolen bases:
In the bottom of the third, Sears was cruising and looking to retire the side until Randal Grichuk homered to deep left field. The longball continued to haunt the A’s, as it has all season. Zach Neto’s flyball to center ended the inning but the Angels extended their lead 2-0 over green and gold.
Brandon Drury continued to punish Sears with a leadoff double to center field in the bottom of the fourth. Sears followed that up by walking Logan O’Hoppe. With runners on first and second, Jo Adell drove in a run with a chopper to the gap that Ryan Noda scooped up but inadvertently overthrew a sprinting JP Sears at trying to cover first. Adell stole second on the next pitch and in a flash the Angels had runners on first and second. Sears answered by striking out Eduardo Escobar and getting Michael Stefanic to pop out to Noda. Manager Mark Kotsay made the decision to walk David Fletcher and load the bases. It worked out. With two outs and the bases juiced, Sears caught Brett Phillips looking for his fourth strikeout of the game, but the damage was done. The Angels added another run and extended their lead to 3-0 over the A’s.
Oakland lefty Kyle Muller entered the game in the bottom of the fifth in relief for the embattled JP Sears. After a quick groundout by Randal Grichuk, Zach Neto singled and the Angels had a runner on. Drury’s incredible day at the plate continued with a two-run homer to right center field. Drury has punished the A’s all season long at home, going 14-26 with 6 HRs, 4 doubles and a triple.
Muller walked Logan O’Hoppe, then picked up a strikeout of Jo Adell for the second out. Then he balked on the next pitch and moved O’Hoppe sixty feet to second. The nightmare inning continued with an Eduardo Escobar single that brought in O’Hoppe. Muller ended the inning with a strikeout of Michael Stefanic, but the Angels plated three more runs for a 7-0 lead.
Jose Suarez replaced Carson Fulmer in the top of the sixth. The Angels reliever got two quick outs (Ruiz & Gelof), then gave up a single to Ryan Noda. Brent Rooker picked up his second hit of the day with a single to right field. With runners on first and second, Suarez threw a wild pitch that got past Angel’s catcher O’Hoppe and both Noda and Rooker advanced sixty feet. The excitement ended there when Oakland centerfielder JJ Bleday flied out to right field.
Mason Miller replaced Kyle Muller in the bottom of the sixth and walked David Fletcher, the first batter he faced. Miller responded with two quick outs, then gave up a double to Zach Neto. Things started to unravel quickly for Miller when he threw a wild pitch that scored David Fletcher and followed that up by hitting Brandon Drury and walking Logan O’Hoppe. With bases loaded, Miller struck out Jo Adell to escape the inning but not without the Angels tacking on another run for a 7-0 lead.
The top of the seventh started with back-to-back singles from Lawrence Butler and Jordan Diaz. Soderstrom grounded into a force out that advanced Butler to third but got Diaz out at second. Nick Allen roped a line drive single to left field that scored Butler, but Ruiz and Gelof failed to make anything else happen and ended the inning and left Allen stranded.
Mason Miller returned for the seventh and picked up where he left off by giving up back-to-back singles to Escobar and Stefanic. Angels second baseman David Fletcher grounded into a force and lead runner Escobar was out at third. Miller collected consecutive strikeouts of Brett Phillips and Randal Grichuk that ended the inning and kept the Halos off the board, but still leading 7-1.
The top of the eighth saw a second Oakland A’s milestone as Brent Rooker jacked a solo homer, giving him thirty on the season:
That was all the offense the A’s could put together and the inning ended after JJ Bleday walked and Lawrence Butler hit into a double play.
Zach Neal came into the eighth for Mason Miller and hit the first batter he faced, Angel’s shortstop Zach Neto. The Brandon Drury hitting clinic finally came to an end with a double play that cleared the bases and gave Neal some room to work. After walking O’Hoppe, Neal struck out Adell to end the inning.
Jimmy Herget came into the ninth for Jose Suarez and looking to pick up the save. Nick Allen made things interesting with a two out double. Esteury Ruiz picked up an RBI single bloop to right field that scored Allen. The glimmer of hope for a comeback was brief as a struggling Zack Gelof struck out to end the game. The rookie Gelof went 0-4 on the day.
The A’s wrapped up their season with a 7-3 loss to the Angels. With the Angels win, the A’s dropped the season series to the rival Angels 7-6.
The A’s pitching staff really struggled against the Angels and despite multiple pitching changes the staff set a new Oakland record for most homeruns allowed for a season with 211. If they weren’t giving up the long ball (three on the day) they struggled with command. The A’s led the majors with an astounding 100 hit batters.
The offense racked up ten hits on the day, but only put three runs on the board. Angels starter Carson Fulmer kept the Oakland bats silent for five innings while only giving up two hits with 3 strikeots and 3 walks. Oakland had little answers for him and didn’t score until afer he was replaced in the fifth.
Despite the lack of offense, Esteury Ruiz and Brent Rooker gave the A’s faithful something to cheer for. Ruiz set a new America league rookie stolen base record with sixty-seven on the season. Brent Rooker went 3-3 with his 30th homerun for the season with his last at-bat in the eighth. Nick Allen also had himself a day at the plate going 3-4 and with an RBI. Unless Oakland brings someone else in, he’ll be battling for the shortstop job come spring.
This tumultuous season will be remembered for the many ups and downs. Yes, there were more downs than the fans would like to have seen, but they were expected with the youth movement. The young players got major league experience and will take that with them into the off season. When the core group returns in February, it will help them get the club going in the right direction.