It doesn’t feel like it’s been over a week since the Oakland Athletics have won a game, and yet that’s where things stood until today. Thanks to another promising outing from Shintaro Fujinami and a great game from utilityman Aledmys Diaz, the A’s got back in the win column against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Following a debut where he went to toe-to-toe with arguably the best player in the world, Shohei Ohtani, the pressure was on to see if Fuji would continue dealing or if cracks in his game would start to show. So far, it’s been the former as the Japanese native delivered another strong Spring Training start, throwing another 3 innings of 1-hit ball.
The only run he allowed was due to his well-known command issues. In the bottom of the 2nd, he walked his first batter, who eventually found his way to third base after a groundout and a wild pitch, and then gave up an RBI single to Diego Castillo. His K/BB ratio remains a work in progress as he’s now struck out 6 and walked 5 in 5 innings. It’s unclear if that walk rate is sustainable but his outings will continue to be fascinating.
Unlike his last game against the Angels, Fuji’s outing resulted in a win, in large part thanks to the efforts of newly signed utilityman Aledmys Diaz. A day after GM David Forst told the San Francisco Chronicle that the starting shortstop job is still technically up for grabs, Diaz made a loud case for himself.
Batting second, Diaz started the game off with a quick run, knocking in leadoff man Tony Kemp with an RBI single. Then, in the 3rd inning, after the A’s scored 3 more runs, Diaz broke the game open with a big three-run double that emptied the bases, making it a 7-1 game that the Dbacks never recovered from.
Most A’s fans will be shocked if Nick Allen isn’t starting every day to open the season; his defense is likely worth more WAR than any offense Diaz might provide. But at least we know our backup isn’t a slouch.
Aledmys Diaz today:— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) March 7, 2023
3-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI
As long as he’s been healthy he’s been a productive MLB hitter. Will be interested to see how much he splits time with Nick Allen at SS this year.
The lineup also saw a lot of contributions from the outfield today. Both Ramon Laureano and Esteury Ruiz, who came into the game hitting .077, had multi-hit, multi-RBI games. JJ Bleday, who replaced Seth Brown in LF after a late scratch, also had a hit and scored a couple of runs. Despite all the losses this spring, it’s been nice to see the lineup consistently produce after a horrid offensive season.
Oakland’s pitching, which has had a rough start, strung together some solid outings today. Behind Fuji, JP Sears got a few innings to make his case for the 5th rotation spot. It likely didn’t hurt or help him much one way or the other; he gave up 2 runs with 3 strikeouts and a walk. Potential closer Trevor May had his second scoreless outing in a row, with Garrett Williams and Drew Steckenrider also putting up 0’s around him.
With the team near the bottom of the Cactus League standings, the A’s will look to start a win streak tomorrow against Team Colombia tomorrow.