The Oakland A’s played host to the visiting Chicago White Sox at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona for the first game of a split squad doubleheader. Fresh off being named the Opening Day starter, lefty Kyle Muller took the bump against Dylan Cease, the White Sox Opening Day starter. As the game unfolded, there was little doubt as to why Cease was picked by Chicago. Today’s start by Muller left Athletics’ fans scratching their heads.
Muller’s disastrous first inning for the A’s set the tone for the entire game. He was hit early and often, giving up four earned runs off six Chicago base hits. The former first round pick gave up a two-run homer to Yoan Moncada and struggled to stop the bleeding. Romy Gonzalez scored Luis Robert Jr on a sacrifice fly and Hanser Albeto’s double scored Eloy Jimenez. Muller ended the inning striking out Selby Zavala and Jake Marisnick. The White Sox took the early 4-0 lead to end the first inning.
Muller looked to have settled down and escaped the top of the second by only giving up two hits and not allowing a run. The A’s outfield helped their pitcher out with a spectacular diving catch by centerfielder Esteury Ruiz and a running snag at the warning track by right fielder Ramon Lauereano.
Despite hitting his stride and striking out five and retiring seven straight Chicago batters, Kyle Muller was pulled in the bottom of the fourth inning after giving up back-to-back RBI doubles (Robert Jr & Jimenez) and an RBI homer to Romy Gonzalez. Bryce Conley came into replace Muller and went 1 1/3 of an inning, giving up a hit and striking out three batters. The substitution was much needed as Muller had reached his pitch count and his confidence was clearly shaken.
Dylan Cease had little trouble keeping the Oakland batters at bay. His only hiccup was a balk in the third inning that moved Tony Kemp over from fist to second base. He cruised through six innings, giving up four hits and striking out five. Trevor May saw limited work and recorded two strikeouts in one inning of work.
Garrett Williams replaced May in the top of the seventh inning and the Chicago offense erupted again. Seby Zavala singled on a line drive to left, scoring Romy Gonzalez and Leury Garcia to stretch the lead to 10-0.
Chase Cohen replaced Williams and promptly served up a triple that scored Seby Zavala and Zach Remillard to extend the Chicago lead to 12-0. Righty Ryan Howard went two flawless innings and struck out four to close things out.
Oakland’s offense did little to help the pitching leaving nine runners left on base. The lineup collectively was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The story of the day was the implosion of the A’s pitching staff against a tough White Sox team. The stat line can be deceiving with sixteen combined strikeouts, but those were scattered around large chunks for Chicago runs being put up on the board. Muller allowed 10 hits and eight runs, although only four were earned. He struck out five, but allowed a pair of home runs.
The second half of Friday’s split squad action will get underway at 6:40 p.m. Mason Miller will make his first start of the spring while the Mariners will go with Luis Castillo.