In the finale of the penultimate home series of 2017, the Atleticos brought their Sunday best, completing the sweep of the division-rival Rangers.
Each team had their share of baserunners in the early innings - neither starting pitcher was sharp from the outset - but the action didn’t begin in earnest until the fifth inning. The top-half opened with Jharel Cotton striking out the side, concluding his day with a run of four consecutive strikeouts.
While it took an inning or two for Cotton to settle into Sunday’s game, his final line was solid - 5 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 6 K. Despite pitching just five innings, Cotton turned in his second best Game Score of the season. In his 77 pitches of work, he leaned heavily on his good change-up, throwing ten in a row in his banner fifth inning.
Jharel Cotton, 10 Changeups in a Row (striking out the side). pic.twitter.com/r5uql4PGBy— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 24, 2017
Oakland’s bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth. Martin Perez had skated by on thin ice, relying on the dangerous formula of trying to strand a bunch of runners without really being a strikeout pitcher. His luck finally ran out in the fifth.
Josh Phegley had an all-around nice day and began the inning with a single. The recently-returned Jake Smolinski followed Phegley’s effort with a single of his own. Semien made an out, but Matt Chapman hit a rocket of a double between the left and center fielders, scoring Phegley.
Jed Lowrie then singled home Chapman. Chapman made an excellent read on a sharply hit line drive to the left fielder and was able to score comfortably. But however great Chapman’s double and subsequent base running was, the inning’s crowning achievement was still to come...
The blast was Khrush’s 41st and second in as many nights. The Green and Gold would add two more in the sixth, courtesy of doubles from Chapman and Phegley, and a single from Mark Canha.
The Rangers would get one back in the seventh on Nomar Mazara’s solo homerun, but by that point, the game was pretty much decided. Bob Melvin updated the status of Cotton and Olson in his post-game remarks:
Cotton had slight elbow tightness. Olson nursing hamstring tightness.— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichNBCS) September 24, 2017
Both will be evaluated again tomorrow but Melvin didn’t seem overly concerned.
With the sweep, the A’s improve their home record to 45-33 on the season. They’re 14-6 over the past 20 games and 18-12 if you stretch it out to 30. The A’s begin this season’s final series at the Coliseum tomorrow night against the Mariners. Daniel Gossett goes to the mound, opposed by Oakland nemesis Felix Hernandez.
This time next week, the season will be over. We may not have achieved what we’d hoped for six months ago, but it’s hard to imagine a better way to end a transition campaign. Have a great rest of your weekend everyone.