It was only a matter of time before we saw Shintaro Fujinami’s wildness catch up to him. Fortunately, the Oakland A’s offense, led by veteran Jesus Aguilar, picked him up by scoring 8 early runs in a victory against the Colorado Rockies.
Today’s game started off with Aguilar and it was ended by Aguilar. In the top of the 1st, after a single from hopeful leadoff man Esteury Ruiz, Aguilar knocked him in from second base with an RBI single to left field. 1-0 for the A’s.
In the bottom half of the inning, things took a bad turn for the A’s as Fuji went out for his third start. In his last two outings, Fuji flashed his tantalizing stuff enough to come out of them relatively unscathed. There were definitely walks, but hitters couldn’t see enough of his strikes to knock them in. This time was different.
The Rockies started things off with a Harold Castro single off Fuji. Nothing to panic about yet. Two batters later, the bases were loaded and Fuji had yet to secure an out. Fortunately, he was able to strike out CJ Cron, whose brother Kevin recently to got assigned to A’s minor league camp. Then came Mike Moustakas up to the plate. In just his third game as Rockie, he hit a double off Fuji, clearing the bases and putting Colorado up 3-1. The struggles didn’t end there as he also walked the next batter.
By this time, Fuji was up to 30 pitches thrown and he still had 2 outs to go in the first. Facing the bottom half of the Rockies lineup, he gutted up settled down, striking out the next two batters, leaving the inning with 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 3 earned runs. His second and third innings went much smoother with 4 Ks and just 2 BBs. The more we see Fuji, the more I’m confident his season will be a roller coaster for A’s fans. It reminds me of 2010 Jonathan Sanchez, who walked a ton of batters but always seemed to get the outs he needed. Fuji’s almost guaranteed to be wild, but if he can be effectively wild like Sanchez was that year with the Giants, then the A’s have a bargain.
Final line for Shintaro Fujinami: 3IP, 4H, 3R, 2BB, 7K. 65 pitches, 39 strikes. Not bad, especially when you consider that rough 35-pitch first inning.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 13, 2023
In the 4th inning, the A’s struck back against the Rockies with a 6-run inning that put Colorado to bed for good. The rally started with a solo blast from Jace Peterson, who’s continuing to put together a really nice spring. Then everyone got in on the action with 3 base hits and 2 walks from everywhere in the lineup. Things then came back to Aguilar who, at bat with the bases loaded, knocked a double to left and drove another 3 runners in, putting the A’s up 8-3. It seems like the A’s are looking to slot Aguilar into the 4-spot of the lineup every day, so hopefully, we’ll be seeing him clean up a lot this season.
Jesús Aguilar can MASH. #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/QPmPRL5sE3— Uprooted (@uprootedoakland) March 13, 2023
Kyle Muller got the chance to get a save today, pitching from the 5th inning on. After 3 inning of one-run ball, the rotation hopeful ran into trouble in the 9th, allowing a single and 2 doubles that made things close at 8-7. The Rockies fought back as best they could, but Mark Kotsay had an ace up his sleeve to close this game out: Calvin Coker.
After saving the A’s 1-0 game against the Dodgers last Thursday with just one out to go, Kotsay threw Coker into another high-pressure situation with 2 outs to get this time and the tying run in scoring position. Just like Thursday, he handled the situation effortlessly by striking out the next batter and getting his last one to line out to short. That puts his Spring Training line at 3 IPs, 2 hits, no walks, 2 saves (!), and a whopping 6 strikeouts. Coker’s only thrown 2 innings at AA but he’s making his case to at least be on the bullpen depth chart for the major league team.
Though it was a shaky start and a close finish, the A’s secured their seventh win of Spring. They’ll look to get their eighth win tomorrow against the Chicago White Sox.