Oakland A’s reliever AJ Puk can’t hold off the Chicago White Sox who rallied in the top of the ninth inning for five runs is relieved by manager Mark Kotsay on Fri Sep 9, 2022 at the Oakland Coliseum (AP News photo)
Chicago (71-68). 5. 7. 0
Oakland (50-89) 3. 6. 2
Friday, September 9, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND-Friday night, the A’s got a scoreless final inning of relief pitching from infielder Sheldon Neuse (0-0-0,0.00) over three games, in case you’re interested). They used reliever Austin Pruitt (0-1,-1, 4.75 at game time) as an emergency starter. The decision didn’t work as hoped, and the White Sox pulled off a stunning come from behind 5-3 victory.
Pruitt’s performance was a resounding success, and three of the four moundsmen the A’s used were effective. But AJ Puk’s work was, frankly, terrible. Maybe manager Steven Kotsay and pitching coach Scott Emerson should take a page out of Eddie Sawyer’s book.
Sawyer, as some of us are old enough to remember, managed the 1950 Whizz Kids Phillies. He used Jim Konstanty, his bullpen mainstay (in those days. they didn’t have closers), who hadn’t started a game all season, as his pitcher for the opening game of the World Series. Konstanty pitched a complete game, losing 1-0 to the Yankees, who went on to sweep the series.
The visiting Chicago White Sox went with Lucas Giotto, making his 26th start of the year in spite of having made two visits to the injured list, once for COVID, and once for an abdominal strain. He first toed the rubber at 10-9, 5.21. Giiotto pitched about as well as you’d expect someone with a 10-9, 5.21 record to pitch.
He lasted six innings and allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks. He struck out six, using 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. He escaped with a no decision and lowered his ERA a smidgen to 5.18.
Oakland’s front office was busy before the on field action began. They claimed Conner Capell, a four A outfielder from the Cardinals and recalled relief pitcher Domingo Tapia from Las Vegas. To make room for the two additions, the Athletics designated Luis Barrera for assignment and optioned lefty reliever Zach Logue to the AAA Aviators.
Friday’s game recap: The A’s took their first lead of the series in their first turn at bat. Tony Kemp, Oakland’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service, started it with a leadoff single to left. Sean Murphy’s single to right moved Kemp into scoring position at second.
Kemp moved up another 90 feet on Seth Brown’s fly to center and scored when the speedy Ramón Laureano beat out the relay on what would have been an around the horn double play.
Pruitt held the Chisox hitless over five innings requiring only 55 pitches to do so. The only men to reach base were Elvis Andrus, who did when second sacker Shea Langeliers mishandled his leadoff grounder in the fourth and Andrew Vaugh, safe on a two base throwing error by third baseman Vimael Machín in the fifth.
He gave way to Joel Payamps in the sixth after having achieved everything that was asked of him and more.
Langeliers atoned for his error by lacing Giolito’s first offering in the bottom of the fifth into the left field corner for a two base hit.
Oakland foiled The Curse of the Leadoff Double when Kemp dropped a two bagger into left to plate Langeliers and scored on Murphy’s liner that spliced through the territories of Andrew Vaughn in left and AJ Pollock in center.
When Payamps came in to mow the White Sox in the sixth, he was protecting a 3-0 lead for Pruitt, who had pitched enough innings to earn the win, but all he got was a no decision and the satisfaction of an impeccable performance.
The Sox, who had come into the game with a major league leading .261 team batting average, didn’t get their first safety until Eloy Jiménez singled to left off Payamps with one away in the seventh. He allowed another single to left, to AJ Pollock, but that was it.
Joe Kelly relieved Giolito in the home seventh, allowing only an infield single to Neuse, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and was replaced by Cristián Pache, who ran for him. Domingo Acevedo pitched a scoreless, one hit eighth.
Aaron Bummer, the first left handed hurler of the evening, pitched the eighth for the visitors.
On time starter AJ Puk entered the fray in the top of the ninth, looking for his fifth save in nine opportunities. A great backhand stop and throw by Kemp, now playing second, got him his first out.
A 377 blast into right on an 0-1 count put Chicago on the board. A 3-2 walk to pinch hitting Yasmani Grandal put the tying run at the plate. Kemp made another great play on Pollock’s shot up the middle, getting the batter out at first while pinch runner Leury García took second. Chicago challenged the call and first, but it stood.
Andrew Vaughn sent a ground single into center, which brought in García to close the gap to. 3-2. Puk got to a 2-2 count on Seby Zavala and then hit him with a pitch. Rory González then smacked a single to left. Adam Engel, running for Vaughn, just beat Pinder´s throw home to tie the score.
Oakland, of course challenged the call, but this one also stood. Andrus capped the Chicago comeback with a double to left that drove in Zavala and González, putting the pale hose ahead 5-3. The newly recalled Domingo Tapia replaced the once promising Puk to put out the fire.
One time Athletics’ closer Liam Hendriks was called upon to perform that job for the visitors. Hendriks, with 31 saves in 35 opportunities, started off by walking Machín on a full count.
The win went to Aaron Bummer. He’s now 2-1, 3.20, and Hendriks got his 32nd save.
Puk was charged with his second loss against three wins. His ERA is 3.20.
Adrián Martínez (4-3,4.37) will start Saturday’s matinee a 1:07 game for the Athletics. Lance Lynn (5-5, 4.34) will oppose him for Chicago.