On paper, getting three homers out of the Oakland A’s lineup should put them in a solid position to win. What held them back was a lack of baserunners, a situation made even more glaring by a Los Angeles Dodgers team that worked eight walks out of the A’s pitching staff and loaded the bases several times.
Nearly half of those walks were issued by the A’s starter Ken Waldichuk. At first, it seemed like the rookie southpaw might be having a breakout performance after breezing through an intimidating Dodgers lineup the first time around. In the first three innings, he only allowed one baserunner while striking out three. After allowing a leadoff single to former NL MVP Freddie Freeman to start the fourth, Waldichuk composed himself and struck out the next two batters on a couple of well-placed four-seam fastballs, swung through by Will Smith and Amed Rosario.
Needing just one out to move to the 5th, Waldichuk began to lose control of his arsenal and, consequently, the game. With Freeman still stranded at first, the rookie beat himself multiple times in fairly favorable situations. First, he walked a lefty in Max Muncy after getting him into a 1-2 count. He followed that up with an eight-pitch walk to Chris Taylor that loaded the bases and hitting James Outman, another lefty, to let in the first run of the game.
Kotsay pulled the trigger and pulled Waldichuk from the game for righty Taylor Scott to face Kike Hernandez. The pitching change didn’t work as intended as Hernandez drove a deep double to left field to clear the bases, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
The A’s clawed their way back into the game with a little power display of their own. It started with rookie Zack Gelof, fresh off hitting a pair of homers in Colorado, pulling a Lance Lynn four-seamer sharply over the left field fence in the top of the 6th. His performances continue to be the best part of watching this team.
No. 4️⃣ on the season for Gelof pic.twitter.com/h785lTkWac— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 2, 2023
Brent Rooker and Jordan Diaz didn’t quite go back-to-back, but they followed up in the 7th with their own solo homers. With Jace Peterson now in Arizona, Diaz should have ample opportunity to solidify himself as an everyday infielder.
Mookie Betts had enough of the Oakland fireworks and blasted a Hollywood homer deep to the left field bleachers in the top of the 7th. But that was just the beginning of the unravelling. Once again Freddie Freeman single commenced another Dodgers rally that continued with a Freddy Tarnok one-out walk. Lefty reliever Sam Long came in to try and quash LA’s momentum but instead, he continued the pitching staff’s wild streak. One wild pitch and a couple of walks later, the Dodgers were back to a three-run lead.
The A’s were unable to cobble together any more runs and the game ended 7-3 with the Dodgers taking game one of the series. However, not all was lost as A’s fans successfully coordinated another roaring “Sell The Team” chant with Dodgers fans in the top of the 5th, in spite of many reports of Dodgers employees stopping A’s fans from handing out fliers.
Hopefully, the spirit and solidarity continues through the rest of the series. Even better if the A’s come out with a win or two. The series continues tomorrow with Hogan Harris facing off against Tony Gonsolin.