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Game #143: A’s Annihilate Astros 10-2

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MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

***Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread***

Baseball is nothing if not strange. The Dodgers, who just a few weeks ago were on pace to break the all-time MLB wins record, have lost 15 of 16. At press time, the Indians were on their way to winning their 18th consecutive game. The probability of either event? Not high. But the probability of the A’s sweeping this series wasn’t much higher and by golly, it’s happened.

Some of the stats coming out of this series are incredible:

One scout, who was at the Coliseum all week, thinks these A’s have the most energy he’s seen since the Donaldson era, and that Pinder might be the best of the bunch.

Coming into today, Dallas Keuchel had started more games against the A’s in 2017 (3) than he had allowed baserunners donned in Green and Gold to cross the plate (2). Keuchel wasn’t bad, and definitely kept his team in the game, but didn’t have the command his stuff necessitates for him to be successful. Oakland’s bats chased Keuchel before the sixth inning ended after tagging him for four runs on six hits and four walks.

On the other side of the pitching duel, we were treated to the good Kendall Graveman today. The Astros fielded a lineup that shouldn’t look much different than the one they’ll run out when they try to win the World Series next month. Graveman wasn’t dominant but he was effective. He threw 104 pitches over six innings and allowed just seven baserunners and a single run. He even flashed a nifty pickoff move to get the second inning’s first out.

Otherwise, the first five innings were pretty quiet. Pinder made a pair of nice catches. The Astros flashed the leather a bit too, including completing the old 3-2, groundout/throw ‘em out at home double play that kept the A’s off the board in the fourth.

But by the fifth, the runs were coming hot and heavy; the A’s scored in every remaining inning. Chapman started the onslaught with a solo bomb.

Houston struck back and tied the game in the top of the sixth, but the A’s broke the game open in the bottom half. Jed Lowrie led off with a single, followed by a Khris Davis walk. Healy struck out, but then Olson and Chapman worked consecutive walks and A’s regained the lead. With one out and the bases still loaded, Keuchel drilled Canha. Dustin Garneau popped out, but the bases were still loaded, and after Marcus Semien walked, the A’s were leading 4-1.

In the seventh, Ryon Healy’s 24th blast extended the lead.

Then Boog and Matty-O put the game out of reach.

The bullpen was good, but the really subplot is that Pinder continues to impress in right field. He’s currently sitting at a 104 wRC+ clip, and if he can improve that slightly, he’s got a real chance of holding down the starting right fielder spot next season. He’s certainly passed the eye test defensively, and while he’s only played 185 innings in the nine position (so take these numbers with an enormous grain of salt), the advanced metrics like him too.

After watching the entire game today, and bits and pieces the rest of the weekend, I have to say this team doesn’t look like a team that hopes to win 70 games. In fact, they look like they’re generally having fun. Chalk it up to youthful exuberance, chalk it up to whatever you want, but I’m encouraged going into the off-season...even if our draft position is taking a hit! Have a great rest of your weekend everyone.