A’s fire 4-0 shutout vs. Angels

Photo credit: @NBCSAthletics

By Lewis Rubman

Los Angeles (AL): 0 | 5 | 0

Oakland: 4 | 5 | 1

OAKLAND — It was an example of generational conflict when the Los Angeles Angels sent Patrick Sandoval to the mound tonight to do battle against the Oakland Athletics and Tanner Roark. Sandoval is a left handed rookie who will turn 23 next month. He has good command and throws fastballs in the low to mid nineties with movement, a good change up, as well as a curve ball and slider. Going into tonight’s fray, he had five games, four as a starter, and a total of 22 1/3 innings of major league experience. He brought a won-lost record of 0-1 and an earned run average of 5.24 with him to the mound.

Roark is 10 years older than his young opponent. The A’s right-hander has toiled for in the show for seven years, and the A’s are his third team in the big leagues, his second of the season. He went a so-so 6-7, 4.24 ERA for Cincinnati but was 2-1, 3.30 ERA since joining the green and gold. He features a sinker, slider, curve, and change up.

It’s not as though the Angels’ lineup were made up of no one but callow youths and the A’s fielded a team of candidates for Altenheim to face the kids from Anaheim. Just one example from each team should be enough. When Albert Pujols came to bat in the top of the first inning, it was his 12,145th plate appearance in a 19 year major league career. Squatting behind him in back of the plate was the A’s Sean Murphy, in his first big league game. The result of the at bat was Pujols’ 658th career double. He was stranded on second, as Brian Goodwin, who had preceeded Pujols’ AB with a single, was on third, when Roark struck out Shohei Ohtani.

With two out in the bottom of the second, Jurickson Profar, batting from his strong (right) side, got a hold of one of Sandoval’s four seam fast balls, this one thrown at 94 mph, and launched it over the State Farm-Kaiser Permanente-DeWalt sign in right center field for his 19th round tripper of the year and a 1-0 Oakland lead.

Although Roark continually flirted with danger, the score remained 1-0 until Sandoval, with his 52nd pitch of the night, got Matt Olson, leading off the bottom of the fourth, to fly out to left center field. At that point, Brad Asmus removed his starter and called on Jake Jewell to replace him on the mound.

Sandoval’s line was 3 1/3 innings, in which he gave up one run earned, on one hit, Profar’s home run, and one walk. He struck out three and threw 52 pitches, 30 of which were strikes. He eventually was charged with the loss, a tough one.

Sandoval’s 6’3” right-handed replaceman proceeded to fan Khris Davis and Chad Pinder to close out the frame.

As if inspired by Jewell’s feat, Roark set down Trout, Goodwin, and Pujols in the top of the fifth, his first 1-2-3 inning of the game. He hit his stride after that.

In the bottom of the inning, Murphy gave his battery mate a little breathing room by sending an 0-1, 95 mph four seam fast ball over the same fence that Profar’s blast had cleared in the second. Murphy’s first major league homer was followed by a single by rookie Sheldon Neuse and Semien’s 26th round tripper of the year, a blast to left. Just like that, the A’s were up, 4-0.

After the resurgent Roark retired the Angels to a conga beat (1-2-3) in the top the sixth, the ex-Athletic Trevor Cahill came in to face his erstwhile teammates in the bottom of the sixth. With the help of a spectacular catch by Trout of pinch-hitting Robbie Grossman’s sinking fly to short center, Cahill also had a 1–2-3 inning. He went the rest of the game, pitching 2 2/3 innings in all and allowing only two baserunners, both on walks. He struck out two and threw a total of 48 pitches, 26 strikes.

Roark came out to pitch the Angels’ seventh and gave up a two-out single to Fletcher. That was enough for the night, and he left after having thrown 6 2/3 innings and allowing five hits and two walks. He struck out six and threw one wild pitch. Of his other 112, 74 were strikes.

His replacement, Yusmeiro Petit, ended the inning with two pitches to Trout, the second of which resulted in a fly to Grosssman, who now was playing right field. That ended the inning and Petit’s day’s work.

Joakim Soria assumed the role of set up man, and he played it very well, thanks in part to a nifty catch by Profar on a falling liner to short left field. Soria, too, got his men, 1-2-3.

Oakland remains in second place in the AL West, nine games behind Houston. The A’s are a half a game behind Tampa Bay in the race for the number one wild card spot They are in a virtual tie with Cleveland for the second slot, but, at 58, lead the Indians by one game in the lost column and are one point ahead of the Tribe in winning percentages.

Tomorrow’s 12:37 p.m. game will be a duel of lefties, with Anaheim’s José Suarez (2-5, 6.71 ERA) going against Oakland’s Brett Anderson (11-9, 4.04 ERA).

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