By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–Dallas Kuechel’s post game comments weren’t meant to be a slight to the A’s nor were they necessarily disingenuous. But they definitely needed a disclaimer, that being the pitcher speaking was responsible for runs 31 through 35 of Oakland’s weekend-long, 41-run onslaught that lead to the most unlikely sweep of any in baseball this season.
“It just so happened that they hit some mistake pitches,” Kuechel explained. “They weren’t hitting quality, quality pitches. When we were making quality pitches, that’s when we were getting outs. But when you throw the ball down the middle or hang a breaking ball, major league hitters are going to do that.”
“It’s just a combination of a bunch of things and whether they’re a lot of little small things or just one big thing, they can get you in a hurry, just like today.”
Today, and Saturday–in both ends of a doubleheader–and in the later innings on Friday. In other words, Kuechel may have relayed his part of the story, but after four wins, 41 runs, 13 extra-base hits in Saturday’s doubleheader, four home runs on Sunday, Kuechel probably only has a limited grasp of what went on.
For starters, the Astros have owned the A’s and had a fleeting shot at sweeping all 10 games at the Coliseum between the clubs this season when they arrived on Friday. Then after the Astros built a 7-3 lead in the opener, the A’s tied it in the eighth, and won it in the ninth.
That broke Houston’s seven-game win streak, one day after the A’s ended an eight-game slide. Then all counterintuitve hell broke lose on Saturday.
The A’s sent shots all over the place, the Astros hurlers couldn’t find the plate, issuing five–yes, five–bases-loaded walks. Suddenly, after losing 12 of 15 to their least-preferred opponent, the A’s whipped the Astros three straight.
But four straight? Kuechel’s mastery over the A’s this season was rare and complete, with the Astros’ ace sporting a 3-0, 0.83 ERA record. Faced with the path of more of the same from Kuechel, or more hits and runs to cap the weekend, the A’s boldly chose the latter, scoring in double figures for a third straight game and winning the finale, 10-2.
“I’m not saying it was unexpected, but the fashion we did it in was pretty impressive,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
“These are all things that define these young guys,” said starter Kendall Graveman, who allowed one run on five hits in six innings, and got the win. “And in a sense, they don’t know no better. It’s, ‘let’s go play ball and give it our best effort.'”