Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks line up on the sixth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Tue Jun 8, 2021 (AP News photo)
Arizona 2 – 5 – 0
Oakland 5 – 6 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
OAKLAND–The Oakland A’s (36-26) returned home tonight after a successful trip to Seattle and Denver, winning twice in each of their three game series against the Mariners and the Rockies. That’s the same won-lost percentage as the green and gold’s season long 18-9, the equivalent of a season record of 108-54, which would be pretty hard to beat.
But not by road wins alone liveth the team. Before tonight’s fray, had compiled a record of only 17-17 on the banks of the Nimitz. The A’s took the first of the two game series Tuesday night with a 5-2 victory behind the fine pitching of A’s starter Chris Bassitt.
Home cooking definitely is not the reason the Athletics still were at the head of the pack in the AL West at game time, having gone 35-26, one game and only .0015 percentage points ahead of Houston. The Arizona Diamondbacks, on the other hand, came in at 20-42, the worst winning percentage in MLB, dragging a 17 road game losing streak behind them.
Today is LGBTQ+ Pride Day in all of the MLB. The A’s chose to make this more than a pro forma event by naming their version of the event the Glenn Burke Pride Night after the Oakland native and outfielder with the Dodgers and Athletics, whose promising career, —and eventually, his life—was destroyed, in great part by rampant homophobia, but not before he had teamed up with Dusty Baker for the first recorded high five in baseball history, on October 2, 1977.
One of the reasons that the belated honor bestowed on Burke tonight is that he is remembered more for his tragic endgame and a bit of trivia than for the talented player and courageous person that he, by all accounts, was.
Jon Duplantier, the D-back’s starting pitcher tonight, is a man of many talents. He turned down a proffered athletic scholarship at Yale, which coveted him as a quarterback, to accept one at Rice, where he played, what else?, baseball.
The Diamondbacks selected him in the third round of the 2016 draft. Duplantier went 1-1, 4.42 in 2019, spent all of last season at Arizona’s alternate site, and 0-1, 9.35 in his two previous starts for the Rattlers this year. One of them lasted 4-2/3 innings; the other, four.
He also had two starts for Reno, where he went 1-0, 7.71. He has a highly regarded curve ball, and major league batters are 0 for 7 against his slider this year. It goes without saying that he also throws a variety of fast balls.
Chris Bassitt (5-2, 3.53) pitched in one of the games on the A’s successful swing through the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, throwing four innings of mediocre ball in Oakland’s 12-6 rout of the Mariners on June 1.
In spite of that, he had a five game winning (or at least not losing) streak going when he toed the rubber, with a record of 5-0, 3.16 in his last ten starts, holding opponents to a BA of .204. Before that, he had gone 0-2, 5.56, and opposing batters had hit a hefty .289 against him. Like Duplantier, he’s a right hander.
A couple of Oakland fan favorites took the field for the Diamondbacks. Josh Reddick played right and batted in the seventh position. Following him in the line up was I Believe In Stephen Vogt behind the plate. With Ramón Laureano still on the injured list, even though he’s eligible to return from it, Mark Canha started in center for the Athletics.
Christian Walker got the scoring started for Arizona in the top of the second, leading off with a first pitch, line drive home run over the Ring Central sign in left on a hung slider. It looked like trouble ahead for Bassitt when he surrendered a single to Pavin Smith and a walk to David Peralta.
But the A’s righty got Reddick and Vogt to fly out and, in spite of a wild pitch to Ildemaro Vargas that advanced the runners to second and third, closed out the inning by inducing Arizona’s number nine hitter to pop out to Andrus in short left field.
Duplantier held the A’s hitless for three innings. Then Jed Lowrie beat the shift with a single to left, followed by a walk to Matt Olson. Mitch Moreland’s single to left loadd the bases and probably would have scored Lowrie if it hadn’t have been a no out situation.
Lowrie scored any way when Sean Murphy drew a five pitch walk. Duplantier took a longer walk, to the club house, leaving with the score tied at one, the bases loaded, and nobody out. Alex Young took over on the mound with Seth Brown at the plate. Chad Pinder pinch hit for him. Pinder singled to left, and everyone moved up a base as the A’s went ahead, 2-1. Chapman did the same, and so did the baserunners.
Tony Kemp went down swinging for the frame’s first out, but Alvis Andrus walked, leaving the bases loaded and the A’s head 4-1. That closed the book on Dupanier, whose line was four runs, all earned, in three innings on two hits and three walks. He struck out four and threw 65 pitches, 38 of which counted as strikes. His already high ERA zoomed to 10.03, and he eventually was charged with the loss.
There was more to come. Andrus walked, refilling the bases. Canha beat out a double play relay from second on his grounder to third, bringing in Pinder. The inning came to a merciful close when Olson went down swinging. Young pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth, so his traditional stats came out smelling like roses with only one run charged against him.
But he had allowed four inherited runners to score, so it wouldn’t be right to consider his performance an effective one. Ryan Buchter relieved him to open the bottom of the seventh and set the A’s down in order.
The Diamondbacks cut the Athletics’ lead to 5-2 in top of the seventh on Christian Walker’s single to right, their first since the second inning, another single, this one to center, by David Peralta, which sent Walker to third, and Josh Reddick’s sac fly to right.
Yusmeiro Petit took over mound duties for the home nine in the eighth and set the D-backs down in order. Bassitt left with a fine pitching line of two runs, both earned, on four hits, one of which went yard, a walk and a wild pitch. He threw 88 pitches, 63 for strikes, lowered his ERA to 3.44, and earned the win.
Lou Trivino came in to close the game in the ninth. Smith got a two out single on a dribbler to third that beat the shift. Trivino got save, his ninth in 11 opportunities. While the Athletics were busy taking a 5-1 lead in Oakland, the Astros got their 27th out in Boston to defeat the Red Sox, 7-1, making the action at the Coliseum a must win situation for the A’s if they were to retain their division lead for another day.
The A’s victory means that, in spite of Houston defeating Boston 7-1, Oakland still is on the top of the heap in the AL West.
At 12:37 tomorrow afternoon, if you’re reading this before midnight, the A’s will throw Sean Manaea (4-2, 3.36) against the D-backs’ Mark Peacock (2-2,4.68).