The hometown Oakland Athletics opened a six-game homestand with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum. The Reds will send righty Luis Enrique Cessa to the mound against A’s righty Drew James Rucinski for the A’s. The Reds are 10-15 and in fourth place in the National League Central while the A’s are struggling with a 5-21 record and in last place in the American League West.
Rucinski made his A’s debut in hopes of bringing veteran leadership and “W’s” to the kelly-green and gold.
Ryan Noda got things started with a base hit to center field. Brent Rooker followed with a single, driving Noda to third. Then Shea Langeliers made it three consecutive hits with a base hit to right field to drive home Noda.
The Reds scored in the top of the second on four consecutive hits of their own against Rucinski. Then Jose Barrero doubled in Nick Senzel and Stuart Fairchild, making the score 3-1. The Reds tacked on two more when Rucinski’s defenders betrayed him. Two Jace Peterson errors bookended a Jake Fraley home run and quickly the Reds jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings.
Rucinski shut the Reds down in the fourth and fifth innings and two-thirds of the sixth inning, but his team’s offense could not close the gap. Sam Long, in his second outing since joining the A’s, closed out the sixth inning on two pitches. The A’s mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ryan Noda led off with a base hit. Rooker walked and Shea Langeliers tripled to drive in Noda and Rooker. Langeliers would be left stranded on third.
Tyler Stephenson got things started with a double in the top of the seventh, and Fraley took first on a hit-by-pitch by lefty Sam Long. After thinking that Long had picked Fraley off at first, Senzel doubled, scoring Stephenson and Fraley. Stuart Fairchild singled, scoring Senzel from second base. So as the fans stood for the seventh-inning stretch, the Reds had taken the lead 8-3.
The A’s jumped right back into it when Esteury Ruiz singled and took second on an outfield bobble. He took third with his eleventh stolen base of the season. Ryan Noda kept his hot night going with his third hit of the night, his third home run of the season. That brought the A’s closer once again at 8-5. Reds righty reliever Buck Farmer hit Rooker and walked Conner Capel, but Jordan Diaz struck out to stymie the rally.
Jonathan India, the 2021 NL Rookie-of-the-Year, walked to lead off the top of the eighth. TJ Friedl moved India to second with a near-perfect sacrifice bunt. Shintaro Fujinami replaced Long and struck out Spencer Steer. India stole third. Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson hit a soft grounder to pitcher Fujinami, but his wild throw pulled Noda off the base and India scored.
Fuji started the ninth inning with back-to-back-to-back walks. A Fujinami wild pitch allowed one run to score. A base hit by India drove in Senzel, brining the score to 11-5 and knocking Fuji out of the game. With one out in the ninth, Ryan Noda walked, and Brent Rooker launched his eighth homer for his 19th and 20th RBIs of the season bringing the final score to 11-7.
The A’s and Reds are at it again Saturday at 1:07 pm PDT in Oakland.