The Oakland Athletics kicked off a four game road series with the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim Monday night. The A’s sent lefty Kent Waldichuk (0-2) to the mound against southpaw José Suarez for the Angels. Both starters have made four starts without a win early in this 2023 season.
Suarez made quick work of the first two batters for the A’s, but Brent Rooker sent the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season. Jesús Aguilar followed that with a similar shot into the same bleachers for his third homer of the season. So, after the first half inning was finished the A’s were already up 2-0.
Waldichuk was solid in his first frame giving up only a single baserunner, Shohei Ohtani reaching on a catcher’s interference. But then Waldichuk picked him of trying to steal second.
The A’s jumped on Suarez again in the second when Aledmys Diaz walked and Designated Hitter Carlos Perez doubled to left field driving Diaz to third. Kevin Smith followed with a three-run homer, his first of the season, bringing the score to 5-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Brandon Drury hit a solo shot to left centerfield to bring the score to 5-1.
Rooker started off the third inning with a bang, after working a 3-2 count, taking Suarez deep for a second time right down the left field line. As if going back-to-back once was not enough Aguilar drove one off Mike Trout’s outstretched glove into the center field stands for his second homer of the night. Five homers into the game and the A’s were ahead 7-1.
Chad Wallach kept the Home Run Derby going with a leadoff homer for the Angels in the bottom of the third. His shot made the score 7-2. Both pitchers settled down for the fourth and fifth innings.
The Angels rallied in the bottom of the sixth with Trout singling on a soft hit to the pitcher, and then Ohtani followed with a hard double down the first base line. Anthony Rendon doubled down the left field line driving in Trout and Ohtani, bringing the score to 7-4. After getting Hunter Renfroe on a called strike three for the first out of the inning, his outing wis through. James Kaprielian entered the game in relief. This was his third relief appearance since being sent to the pen. He walked the bases loaded, and then gave up a bloop single to Chad Wallach, scoring Rendon. Rookie Zach Neto doubled down the left field line scoring Drury and Rengifo. Kaprielian blew a four-seam fastball by Trout to end the inning. Despite looking sharp in that AB against Trout, Kaprielian once again showed that he is not ready for prime time. The sixth inning ended with the score tied at 7.
Zach Jackson entered the game in relief of Kaprielian and struck out Ohtani and Rendon. But Hunter Renfroe doubled off Jackson, and Brandon Drury singled to shallow center to drive him in, giving the Angels their first lead of the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Jesús Aguilar led off the eighth inning with his third hit of the game, and the first that did not leave the ballpark. Tyler Wade ran for Aguilar. Wade stole second but was stranded when pinch hitter Jace Peterson struck out swinging. Righty Adam Oller cruised through the heart of the order to shut down the Angels in the ninth.
The A’s started the ninth with back-to-back walks to Ryan Noda and Tony Kemp putting the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. Ruiz popped up a bunt in foul territory for the first out. Conner Capel singled to load the bases with one out. Brent Rooker drew a four-pitch walk to tie the game off Jaime Barría. With two outs, Taylor Ward reached over the wall to bring back what would have been a Shea Langeliers grand slam for the final out of the inning.
The A’s started the tenth with placed runner Shea Langeliers on second. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice by Aledmys Diaz. Ryan Noda doubled scoring Langeliers and Peterson. Tony Kemp singled driving in Noda. That brought the score to 11-8. Jeurys Familia came in to try to close out the tenth. Looking to secure his second save of the season, Familia gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Drury, his second homer of the night. That brought the score to 11-10. Pinch hitter Matt Thaiss walked. Familia plunked Zach Neto pushing Thaiss to second base. Neto represented the winning run of the game. He struck out Taylor Ward setting up the matchup of Familia versus Trout with the game on the line. Trout grounded into a force-out at third base to end the game.
The A’s 7 extra-base hits was the most of the 2023 season. The series continues tomorrow with game two featuring 24-year-old Mason Miller taking the mound for the A’s against 26-year-old Griffin Canning in Anaheim.