The Oakland A’s seem to have a knack for taking game 1’s. After winning the first game of their last two series against the Blue Jays and Yankees, the A’s took another series lead against the Chicago White Sox today in a 7-4 victory.
Early in the game, it looked like things were about to unravel for the A’s. Following a start in which he walked 7 batters and allowed 3 runs in 5 innings, it looked like it was gonna be more of the same for Luis Medina today. In the top of the 1st, the rookie starter gave up a leadoff double to Andrew Benintendi before mowing down the next 2 batters relatively quickly. With White Sox cleanup man Eloy Jimenez at the plate, Medina put up a quick 0-2 count. But on the third pitch, Jimenez got a nice swing on a bit of a hanging slider and got it through the left side of the infield, allowing Benintendi to finally score.
Still looking for his last out, Medina instead loaded the bases after allowing a single and a walk to the next couple of batters. Fortunately, he got Gavin Sheets to fly out and end the inning. However, the trouble didn’t end for the youngster as he loaded the bases once again in the top of the 2nd, this time on a trio of walks. But once again, he pitched just effectively enough to get out of the inning without significant damage. After allowing 7 baserunners, in just 2 innings, Medina was lucky to walk away with just a 1-0 deficit.
That small lead would disappear very soon as the A’s took the game over in the bottom of the 2nd. JJ Bleday got things started with a leadoff walk against 31-year-old swingman Tanner Banks. A couple of back-to-back hits from Aledmys Diaz and Shea Langeliers brought Bleday home and tied the game at 1-1. Diaz then scored on a sac fly before Langeliers stole his first major league base! Tony Kemp followed that up with an RBI triple down the right field foul line.
Another sac fly from RISP god Esteury Ruiz gave the A’s a strong 4-1 lead, but with Medina’s so far shaky command, it wasn’t clear the A’s would be able to take that lead to the end of the game. Fortunately, he settled down and improved his command as the game went on. In the 3rd, he got all three batters to ground out in a clean 10-pitch shutdown inning. He then got 2 more strikeouts over the next couple of innings to finish his start with just the 1 run allowed. Given how much trouble he can put himself in, Medina’s shown great composure in some of his worst outings this year. Even if his command remains inconsistent, his mental fortitude to get through innings and starts makes him a keeper.
In the bottom of the 5th, Carlos Perez decided to extend his team’s 3-run lead to 4 with a solo shot to the left field seats.
The White Sox threatened a comeback in the 8th inning when a trio of singles against Sam Moll loaded the bases. With just 1 out to get, Benintendi drove a middle-in sinker deep to right-center field that bounced off wall and knocked in a couple of runs, cutting the lead to 5-3. This ended Moll’s night and set Trevor May up for a 4-out save. Coming into to battle Tim Anderson for the fate of the inning, May threw nothing but strikes and got the shortstop swinging with just 4 pitches.
In the bottom of the 8th, the A’s tacked on a couple of insurance runs, once again kicked off by a Bleday walk and followed up by a Diaz double that scored the first run. A single from Jace Pederson scored the second that helped the A’s regain their 4-run lead.
Tacking on some insurance runs pic.twitter.com/luwnkDU06v— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 1, 2023
With 3 outs to get, May continued to hammer the strike zone. One of those strikes unfortunately got hit out of the ballpark by Luis Robert, Jr., but he mowed the next 3 batters with ease, needing only 6 pitches to finish the game, secure the victory, and earn the save.
Oakland takes game 1 of the 3-game set for the third time in a row, but in both of the previous series, they lost the next 2 games and those series overall. They’ll hope to avoid the same fate this time around with a victory tomorrow as Kyle Muller makes his return to the majors in a faceoff against last year’s AL Cy Young runner-up Dylan Cease.