Braves hold on to just get by A’s 10-9 at Coliseum

The Oakland A’s Chad Pinder swings for the fences connecting for a three run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning at the Oakland Coliseum against the Atlanta Braves Tue Sep 6, 2022 (AP News photo)

Atlanta (85-51).      10.  13.  0

Oakland (50-86).     9.   9    1

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

OAKLAND–This unseasonable September weather in Northern California makes the Bay Area seem less like the haven it is from the torrid temperatures that plague the rest of these somewhat United States and more like two others, Florida and Arizona.

This is the type of baseball we’re getting here in Oakland and, to lesser extent, in San Francisco resembles the type of ball you see in Arizona when summer turns into autumn, a blend of extended spring training and the Arizona Fall League, a chance to get a glimpse future stars, future bit players, and future of might have beens.

It would be grand if the home team wins, but if they don’t, it’s just a shame. That’s not what September baseball in the Coliseum is about. The world will little note that Atlanta edged out Oakland in a slugfest by a score of 10-9. 

A different question hangs over the ballpark like the smoke particles wafting down from the north,  the Coliseum itself. Where will the Oakland A’s play three to five years from now? Will there be an Oakland A’s three to five years from now? And in what state will they play.

Never discount the possibility that  the Athletics’ ownership, in collaboration with MLB, will play both Oakland and Las Vegas for fools. Maybe hokey pokey IS what it’s all about.

The team’s management today engaged in some more straightforward deals with Vegas, where their AAA farm team is located. They promoted  Ken Waldichuk, a left handed pitcher they had acquired, along with JP Sears, from the Yankees in the deal that sent Frankie Montás and Lou Trivino into exile in New York.

They also recalled outfielder Cody Thomas from the Aviators. Right-handed pitcher David McKay was the odd man out, and he was DFA’d for assignment, thereby staying below the 28 player roster limit.

Thomas started tonight in left field, batting in the eighth position. Ramón Laureano also was in the outfield tonight, in center, fresh off the 10 day injured list. Cal Stevenson, in turn, was optioned to Las Vegas.  Adam Oller was placed on the 15 day list, retroactive to the day before yesterday. His spot in the bullpen will be filled by Fremont native Tyler Cyr.

The battery for Oakland tonight  didn’t consist of tryouts. Catcher Sean Murphy has a gold glove to his credit, and his batting average has risen from a distressing .238 on August 1 to mediocre but strikingly improved .254 at game time.

Cole Irvin, the green and gold’s  southpaw starter, now in his fourth big league season if you count 2020, started the day with the lowest ERA among Oakland´s starters with enough innings pitched for the statistic to be meaningful, 3.35 .

 There were also a couple of familiar faces in Atlanta’s starting lineup. One was Matt Olson, to whom Matt Chapman owes I’d say 65%, at least, of his gold gloves. He was cheered loudly by the 6,062 fans present when he was announced.

The other was, switch hitting Robbie Grossman, up ninth and playing in right.The Braves’ roster contained other reminders of what baseball in Oakland used to be. Coaches Kevin Seitzer, Ron Washington, and Walt Weiss and pitcher Jesse Chavez are the ones that caught my eye.

Irvin didn’t pitch well in his last start, on August 30 in Washington. Over 5-1/3 innings, He gave up nine hits leading to five runs, all of them earned. But it garnered him his seventh win against 11 losses. Tonight he was ineffective.

He lasted only 4-2/3 frames and was tagged for nine runs, all earned, on the same number of hits, one of them a home run. He walked four and maintained his fearful symmetry by walking an equal number of Braves. He W L ND and ended the night at 7-11, 3.78. He threw 84 pitches, 55 for strikes 

Irvin’s opposing starter, Kyle Wright, entered the fray as the National League’s winningest pitcher, with 17 to his credit against five defeats. Nor was his 2.85 earned run average anything to sneeze at. He was the fifth overall selection in the 2017 draft. 

His only previous appearance against Oakland occurred in Atlanta this past June 7, when he earned his sixth victory of the year, holding them to two runs, earned, on five hits and no walks over eight frames. His performance this hot, Atlanta-like night in Oakland was as poor as Irvin’s.

Wright pitched four innings and yielded eight runs, all earned, on five hits, three walks, a wild pitch, and two hit batsmen. He surrendered a pair of long balls and escaped with a no decision. His ERA rose almost half a run, to 3.25, while his won-lost mark remained at 17-5

Atlanta beat up on Oakland at the first opportunity.  Ronald Acuña, Jr., and Dansby Swanson rapped out sold singles to inaugurate the festivities. After Riley, greeted with chants of “MVP” flew out to right, Olson walked to load the bases. William  Contreras lifted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Acuña.

For some reason, Dermís Garía decided not to cut the throw off at first, and Swanson and Olson each advanced a base. Vaughn Grissom then whistled a hard bouncer past García down the first base line, and the A’s were behind 3-0 before they had faced the first of Wright’s  challenges.

The A’s got one of those runs back in their half of the initial frame. Tony Kemp smacked a leadoff double to right, moved to third on Ramon Laureano’s ground out to short, and scored when Murphy followed Laureano’s lead.

By the third, the Braves were on the. attack again. Swanson led off with a double that bounced against the left field wall, between the seven Up and Ray Fosse signs. Riley walked on four pitches, setting the stage for Olson’s 28th home run of the year, a 417 foot blast to dead center field off of a 90mph four seamer. It brought his RBI total to 90 on the year. His team now led his old team, 6-1 and then lightning struck

. With one away Nick Allen hit an automatic double over the Sports California  advertisement in left center. He moved up 90 feet on Kemp’s ground out to second and scored on Laureano’s single to left. Murphy continued his hot streak with a 404 foot dinger to center, making it 6-4. It was his 18th round tripper of the year and gave him his 54th and 55th RBI. The A’s reduced their deficit to a single tally three pitches later.

The pitch was an 85mph curve, and, if it wasn’t hanging, Seth Brown certainly hung it out to dry, sending it 394 feet into center field for his 20th four bagger of ’22.The A’s comeback was too good to last long. Allen made a high throw to first on Riley’s lead off grounder to short.

Only a great leaping catch by García at first managed to secure the out. After Olson struck out, it seemed that Irvin had everything under control. He didn’t.

Contreras worked a full count walk. Grissom’s single to right sent him to second. Michael Harris, Jr., singled to center, plating Contreras and sending Grissom to third.

Michael Harris tried to advance, Vimael Machín’s throw to second was accurate, and second base umpire Ramón De Jesús called him out. But the replay crew in New York didn’t see it that way, and the Braves’ challenge was upheld. 

At this point, manager Mark Karsay yanked Irvin and sent Joel Payamps to the mound.

He allowed Marcell Ozuna’s single to left that drove in Grissom and Harris and left the A’s trailing, 9-5. Wright also failed to survive the fifth. He walked Kemp and then hit Luareano with a pitch. A wild pitch to Murphy moved both runners up a base.

A walk to Murphy loaded the bases and ended Wright’s tenure. His replacement, southpaw Dylan Lee, fanned Seth Brown. García hit a grounder to short that forced out Laureano at third. Chad Pinder pinch hit for Machín and put the A’s back in the game  with a 398 foot homer to center.

The teams now were tied at nine. Back to back singles by Langeliers and Cody Thomas sent Lee to the showers and the one time Athletic Jesse Chavez to the mound. It was a tense moment, and he did not receive a warm welcome from the A’s faithful. He struck Allen out to end the inning.

Atlanta broke the tie in the sixth. Acuña led off with a two bagger and advanced to third on Swanson’s fly to right. Riley and Olson also flew out to right. Riley’s fly was of the sacrificial kind. Olson’s ended the inning.  Atlanta now was on top, 10-9.  The sac fly was hit against Sam Moll, who had relieved Payamps after Acuña crossed the plate. The run was charged against Payamps.

Two beautiful plays by Kemp, one on a grounder and one on a pop up got Moll safely through the seventh with Oakland still in striking distance at 10-9.

Raisel Iglesias was Atlanta’s pitcher for the home seventh. It took him a dozen pitches to get Brown, leading off, out on a fly to the back of the right field warning track. But he got out of the inning without allowing the A’s anything more than a single to Pinder.

Austin Pruitt mounted Oakland’s carousel of relievers for the top of the eighth and sent his opponents down to a conga beat and hung around to start the ninth.

It was AJ Minter’s turn in home eighth. Jonah Bride, hitting for Langeliers, hit an opposite field grounder to first. Olson made a great grab of it, and Minter beat Bride to the bag by an eyelash to record the put out. He struck out the next two batters he faced, Allen and Sheldon Neuse, hitting for Kemp.

Riley opened the top of the ninth by beating out a grounder to third, and Pruitt yielded to Kirby Snead. Aside from a single to Grissom, he was unscathed.

The A’s had one last chance left. They had to face Kenley Jansen, tied for the major league lead in saves and ninth on the all time list for that category. Laureano flailed in vain at a cutter for the third strike to lead off. Murphy popped out to first.Brown went down swinging on a sinker.

The win went to Jesse Chavez, now 3-1, 3.36. Payamps took the loss, leaving him with a record 3-4, 3.00.

Tomorrow at 12:37, the newly returned Ken Waldichuk (0-0, 1.93) will go head to head against Spencer Strider (9-4, 2.67)

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