Oakland Athletics pitcher Adrian Martinez heads to the dugout after being lifted in the top of the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at the Oakland Coliseum (AP News photo)
Chicago (72-68). 10. 20. 2
Oakland (50-90). 2. 3. 0
Saturday, September 10, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–Your 2022 Oakland Athletics always can find a new way to lose. Friday night’s ninth inning breakdown was one of the most galling. Austin Pruitt pitched to 21 members of the best hitting team in major league baseball without allowing a single safety.
Thanks to a pair of errors behind him he was credited with 6 innings of no hit ball; in a just world it would have gone into the books as 6-2/3 innings of perfect pitching. And then there’s the matter of AJ Puk’s blown save….
But we don’t live in a just world and, in that way, baseball is a reflection of life, and we go on to the next day and the next game. That’s always difficult, especially when, like Oakland, your opponents come to the ballpark with a higher team batting average (Chicago’s is .261) than your top hitter’s, in this case Sean Murphy at .253.
There was no flirting with perfection Saturday, nor was it surprising that this afternoon’s contest between the two mismatched opponents ended in a 10-2 rout of the Athletics.
This afternoon, the A’s pinned their hopes on the right arm of 25 year old Adrián Martínez, a native of Mexicali. Mexicali is a strong baseball town, with a team in the Mexican Pacific League.
It has been the host of both the Caribbean Series and the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic. Many major leaguers have played for the Mexicali Eagles, some, like Fernando Valenzuela, known to all baseball fans; others, like Sergio Romo and Adam Rosales, more likely to be confined to Bay Area fame.
Martínez has been shuttling back and forth between the Las Vegas and Oakland rosters, bringing a big league record of 4-3, 3.47 with him to Saturday’s game. When he left after hurling 3-2/3 innings, the A’s were behind 7-0. All of those runs were earned.
Martínez had thrown 93 pitches, 64 of which counted as strikes, and the Chisox had amassed 14 hits and a walk from them. Martínez struck out two and unleashed a wild pitch. He took the loss, his fourth against an equal of wins, and saw his ERA jump to 5.59.
His opposite number for Chicago. was Lance Lynn, a 35 year old veteran whose 5-5, 4.34 ledger when the game started is somewhat misleading. He was 120-82, 3.53 lifetime and 4-2, 2.28 since the All Star game. He was 4-2, 3.99 lifetime against the green and gold, including a 7-3 loss to them on July 29, when he surrendered five runs, four earned, over 5-2/3 innings, throwing 104 pitches.
Lynn had an excellent outing today. The two runs scored against him over six frames were unearned. and came on three hits and a walk. He hit two batters and struck out five. He threw 107 pitches, 72 for strikes. He earned the win and improved his won-lost record to 6-5 and lowered his ERA to 4.07. Those three hits were all the A’s got. Now, THERE’s a bullpen.
The Chisox scored early and often, crossing the plate four times in the top of the second. The frame started innocuously enough with AJ Pollock weak grounder to the right of the mound making its way through to left field for a single. Andrew Vaughn grounded out to Viamel Machín at third, sending Pollock to second. Pollock promptly pilfered third and scored on Yasmani Grandal’s single to center.
Erstwhile Josh Harrison singled to right, and then another Oakland alumnus, the resurgent Elvis Andrus made it 4-0 with his 13th home run of the year, a 412 foot no doubter to center. Five of those blasts came in 86 at bats for the pale hose; it had taken him another 354 ABs to garner the eight he hit for Oakland.
The inning ended with a scare, a liner from Gavin Sheets’ bat caromed off Martínez’s leg. The young hurler fell to the ground but was able to walk off the field on his own power and remained in the. game. (Incidentally, Sheets was retired, 1-4-3)
Chicago tacked on a trio of tallys in the fourth. One came on a Jiménez sacrifice fly that drove in Moncada, who had singled and gone to third on a single by Abreu.
Both he and Pollock, who singled after Martínez had fanned Sheets, came home on Vaughn’s two bagger down the line to left that drove Martínez from the mound, replaced by Kirby Snead, who closed out the inning by getting Grandal to ground out to short.
Snead continued his labors, holding Chicago at bay until back to back not too hard hit singles to right by Pollock and Vaughn ended his mound tenure. It now was Sam Moll who came in to close out the inning by facing Grandal, which he did, also on a grounder to short.
Oakland loaded bases on an error on Machín’s grounder to second, a walk to Murphy, and an infield single by Brown to open the bottom of the fourth. All they got for that was one run, scored by Machín on Vogt’s sac fly to center.
Harrison’s second error gave Oakland its second run. With one down in the bottom of the sixth Lynn hit Laureano with a slow curve. Vogt then smacked a grounder to second that Harrison elected to throw to Andrus, covering second. He ended up throwing it into left field. Vogt advanced to second on the throwing error, and Laureano came all the way home on it, cutting Oakland’s deficit to 7-2.
Domingo Tapia, freshly recalled from Las Vegas needed only nine pitches to walk Harrison and Andrus, the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh. He went to a full count on Moncada, who fouled off a mess of pitches, before walking him to clog the basepaths.
It looked as if Tapia might pitch himself out of the self-inflicted jam he was in when Abreu hit a soft grounder back to the mound that Tapia converted into a 1-2-3 twin killing. But Andrus and Moncada, who had advanced on the DP, scored on a single to right center by Jiménez, and it was 9-2 in favor of the Sox.
When Oakland came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, Lynn had done his bit, and he was given the rest of the day off, replaced by Jimmy Lambert.
The White Sox reached double digits in scoring on an infield hit by Pollock, single to right center by Vaughn, and Grandal’s sac fly in the eighth. After Harrison took a called third strike for the second out of the inning, Norge Ruíz relieved Tapia, retiring Andrus and the side on a grounder to Allen at short.
As if ex-Athletics hadn’t bedeviled the current crop enough this series, Jake Diekman pitched the bottom of the eighth and got the A’s out in order, fanning two of them.
José Ruíz came out of the bullpen for the 56th time of the season, tasked with preserving Chicago’s eight run lead for one last inning. He did it to a conga beat.
The A’s will honor Dave Stewart, retiring his number and giving away replicas of his jersey before Sunday’s 1:07 game against the White Sox. Former A’s manager Tony LaRussa who had been away from the team will join the Sox for the ceremony of his old pitcher Stewart it was an opportunity that LaRussa didn’t want to pass up. The contest Sunday could be an interesting game, with Oakland’s Cole Irvin (7-11, 3.78) going against the White Sox Johnny Cueto (7-7, 2.87) at the Coliseum.