Mental mistakes, missing offense doom A’s to 4-2 loss to the Indians

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The A’s are talking about all the extra work they’re putting in to get their offense in gear.

That’s not a good sign.

Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Indians came with mental blunders, clutch pitching and little offense. That prompted another round of questions about the A’s offense afterwards.

“I feel good about it every day we go out there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They get in good work in the cage. (Hitting coach Darren Bush) does well preparing them about how they’re going to be pitched to, we’re just in a rut right now. Every day we go out there, I feel like we’re going to break out of it.”

The A’s fell behind 1-0 on the game’s first pitch, hand delivered to the bleachers by Bradley Zimmer off Chris Bassitt. The A’s tied it in the second, then again in the fifth, 2-2, but that was it. Not many scoring opportunities, and those that surfaced didn’t amount to much.

The A’s have started the season’s second half like they finished the first–with issues offensively. Now that critical performers Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano have returned to the lineup, the belief was the team would start to perform again. But instead, Sunday’s loss was their 15th in their last 24 contests, enough losing to fall behind the Astros in the AL West, and feel the heat from a quartet of challengers for the league’s final wild card spot as well.

The biggest issue? The team batting average sunk to .208 over the last 18 games, it’s .233 over the entire season, and that’s just not cutting it in a year where the league average for teams is .241. Too many times, the A’s can’t produce runs, or run scoring opportunities. On Sunday, only one A’s batter, Matt Chapman, had an opportunity with a runner in scoring position. On a meager day offensively, that’s striking.

Two batters before Seth Brown’s solo shot got the A’s even in the fifth, Laureano tried to stretch a double into a stroll to third base when an errant throw got away from Jose Ramirez. But Laureano was tagged out in clear defiance of baseball’s rigid rule: don’t make the first out of an inning at third base.

“There’s nobody out, and when you aren’t scoring any runs, you try to make something happen,” Melvin said. “(The ball’s) out there in no-man’s land and (he) saw how far away the third baseman was and took a chance at getting there. Just didn’t work out.”

If Laureano stays put, Brown’s homer picks him up and gives the A’s a lead. Instead, little else happened. The A’s had trouble Sunday just mounting a threat.

Meanwhile, the locally raised group on the Indians took over. Outfielder Daniel Johnson from Vallejo homered to give the Indians a 3-2 lead, Zimmer, the former USF star, opened the scoring as previously mentioned, and Bryan Shaw from Livermore closed the door by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second save.

Attendance for the game was 8,572, a second disappointing, weekend ending crowd in a row for the A’s who haven’t benefitted from being competitive in the standing, as much as they’ve suffered with rumors circulating that the team may be moving to Las Vegas. That, and the team’s offensive woes would seem to point to a trade deadline acquisition that could jumpstart the team, but no names are currently circulating in that regard.

Chris Bassitt took the loss, ending his 10-game win streak dating back to April. Bassitt allowed six hits and three runs, two of those hits home runs by Zimmer and Johnson.

Derby Prep: Olson goes deep twice in All-Star Break finale win over the Rangers

By Morris Phillips

Matt Olson got into the swing of things–Home Run Derby style–by homering twice in the A’s 4-1 win over the Rangers on Sunday. But Olson wasn’t the only one swinging for the fences.

Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy homered back-to-back in the second inning.

With Chris Bassitt on a career-best roll, winning his 10th consecutive decision with seven innings of near flawless pitching, the A’s finished the first half of the season with a pair of wins after dropping 13 of their previous 19 contests.

Not surprisingly, Olson slumped as the team did: the slugging first baseman had just one homer in his previous 18 games coming into Sunday. Now he settles into his role as an All-Star and Home Run Derby participant with 23 bombs on the season.

“In the past we’ve been a home run-hitting team,” Olson said. “It was good to get back and see some leave the yard.”

The A’s have hit 115 home runs in their 92 games thus far, putting them well above the league average of 106, and among the top ten home run hitting clubs in MLB. Still, their offense has been spotty, surprisingly more so at home in the Coliseum, but the starting pitching has been exemplary, and the bullpen has been above average despite the absence of closer Trevor Rosenthal.

“Obviously we’d like to be in first place in the division and we’re not, but hopefully we come out and whatever that second half magic is we’ve had in the past, we keep it going,” Olson said.

The A’s trail the division-leading Astros by 3 1/2 games heading into the break after leading the division for 60 days, and now trailing the Astros for 20 days.

Bassitt improved to 10-2 on the season by pitching far better than he did in his start at Houston, in which he allowed six runs but somehow avoided a loss in a game the team lost 9-6. This time, Bassitt allowed an RBI double to Nick Solak and only four hits in total.

Rangers starter Koby Allard not only needs a break, he needs a break from the A’s specifically as he lost to Oakland for the third time in the last 18 days, and has dropped five, consecutive starts to the A’s. Allard allowed all four A’s home runs, and three of the four traveled over 400 feet.

The A’s open the second half at home against Cleveland and the Angels, but the homestand only spans five games before the team hits the road for a three-city, 10-game trip.

Home Run Happy: A’s stay hot in June with 6-3 win over the Royals

The Oakland A’s Matt Olson (28) gets a forearm bash from teammate Elvis Andrus (17) after hitting a fifth inning home run against the Kansas City Royals at the Oakland Coliseum Sun Jun 13, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The 2021 A’s don’t miss many opportunities. When an opponent comes in limping, the A’s make sure they don’t get medical attention.

The A’s improved to 9-2 in June by defeating the Royals 6-3 on Sunday at the Coliseum. The A’s got big afternoons from their biggest names–Matt Olson and Chris Bassitt–in drubbing Kansas City, losers of 8 of 9 and 24 of 38 after an exemplary 16-9 start to their season.

Olson homered twice to back Bassitt, who pitched into the sixth inning, allowing five hits and two runs to win his seventh, consecutive decision. Bassitt survived a scary moment when he was hit by a batted ball and found himself face down on the turf in pain. Trainer Nick Paparesta and manager Bob Melvin nervously approached Bassitt, but the A’s ace popped up slowly and didn’t need to leave the game.

“It hit me in the perfect spot. That may sound weird,” Bassitt said. “It didn’t affect me at all.”

The Royals didn’t affect Bassitt much either. Nicky Lopez, who delivered the batted ball to Bassitt’s side also had an infield hit for an RBI single. An inning later, in the third, Andrew Benintendi touched Bassitt for a solo shot to close the A’s lead to 3-2. But Bassitt cruised from their and departed in the sixth due to his elevated pitch count, which hit 104.

Kris Bubic surrendered both of Olson’s home runs and one to Matt Chapman. That had the lefty headed to the showers in the fifth, trailing 5-2. The former Stanford pitcher has allowed nine home runs in his last four starts, after not allowing any over his first six starts of the season.

The A’s improved to 40-27 on the season, and maintained their two-game lead on the second-place Astros in the AL West. Hot Anaheim visits the Coliseum starting Monday with six consecutive wins under their belts. The Angels reside in third place in the division, but have climbed above .500 for the first time this season at 33-32.

Dylan Bundy faces the A’s Sean Manaea in the series opener at 6:40pm on Monday. Bundy failed to win any of his first 10 starts of the season, falling to 0-6, before he won his most recent start at home against the Royals. Manaea has thrown 15 innings in June, winning both of his starts via shutout while allowing just six hits.

A’s survive two Twins comebacks, and win 7-6 at Target Field

By Morris Phillips

The A’s 7-6 win over the Twins Sunday wasn’t wild solely based on the game’s dramatic ebbs and flows, but also because numerous pitches were wild, and timely enough to decide the game’s outcome.

Oh yeah, and the umpiring was wild enough to have the A’s declare this a win against all odds.

“If you want to look at one game and say ‘what are the Oakland A’s made of?’ this was the game,” starting pitcher Chris Bassitt said. “I mean, every single thing went against us… and we still won.”

The A’s needed responses to a pair of Minnesota comebacks, the second of which concluded with Ramon Laureano scoring the winning run in the ninth on Taylor Rogers’ wild pitch. Matt Chapman actually struck out swinging on the pitch that crossed up catcher Mitch Garver, with the ball bounding all the way to the backstop, then up the first base line.

The setup for the dramatic, go-ahead run could have been an A’s hard-earned hit-and-run single, but it wasn’t. Instead, the Twins’ Josh Donaldson dropped Rogers throw off a come-backer that was tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. That set the A’s up with the go-ahead run at third with one out.

“Probably could have been better on my part,” Rogers said, not particularly enthusiastic about reliving a nightmare ninth inning. “Probably could have been caught on his part. I don’t know. It is what it is. No sense in looking at it, because it ain’t changing.”

The decisive ninth encompassed all of the weekend’s storylines: the Twins desperate to climb out of a dismal start to the season, and build on a dramatic, Saturday night win, couldn’t, while the far more fortunate, first-place A’s found a way to keep things rolling.

To wit, the Oakland offensive attack was quite unconventional for 2021: no homers, no run-scoring doubles, instead base hits, sac flies, advancing runners –and thanks to the home team–take full advantage of opponent’s mistakes. Incredibly, again given how teams attack these days, the A’s scored all seven runs one at a time with at least one base runner aboard each time.

Unconventional? Elvis Andrus found himself in a run down in between third and home, one out and the A’s trailing by a run in the fifth. Dead to rights, right? But the veteran Andrus took advantage of rookie Twins catcher Ben Rortvedt, by inducing a quick throw to third, then reversing ground to home, and slyly brushing Rortvedt, who wasn’t savvy enough to concede the baseline.

The call? Catcher’s interference, an Andrus scores to tie the game. Resourceful? You bet, leaving manager Bob Melvin to marvel at his team’s resolve.

“People keep asking me about how you respond from something like (Saturday’s loss). Guys keep doing it. A lot of heart on this team,” Melvin said.

Bassitt pitched five innings that were anything but smooth. In the second, he hit two batters, which conveniently set the table for Max Kepler’s three-run homer. The veteran pitcher then saw his pitch count explode through three innings, with 52 of his 61 pitches expended in the second and third.

But he continued to battle, somehow getting through five innings without exposing the Oakland bullpen early.

The A’s finish their brief trip to Boston and Minneapolis at 4-2 and now return to the Coliseum for Tuesday’s showdown with the second-place Astros.

A’s win streak hits eight, sweep the Tigers with 3-2 walk off job

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The A’s tried to give Sunday’s contest away, but it was the Tigers that actually booted it, on Jeimer Candelario’s fielding error in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Mitch Moreland’s sharply hit ground ball got under Candelario’s glove and body, allowing Matt Olson to score from second base, in the A’s 3-2 win at the Coliseum.

What appeared to be an unlikely mistake with the game on the line gained greater context in the recent history between the two clubs in which the A’s have dominated, winning 22 of 23 since June 2015. Simply, disaster strikes Detroit when facing the A’s, and the Tigers’ new manager A.J. Hinch is merely catching up to the facts.

“Everything that kind of could go wrong did go wrong in this four-game series,” Hinch said. “We didn’t hit and then ultimately we just couldn’t finish them all off.”

Before the game’s deciding play, the A’s did plenty to damage their hopes, especially in leaving a baserunner stranded at third base in the fourth and eighth innings, as five Oakland hitters failed to hit the ball past the infield, and three of the five struck out. Overall, the A’s were 0 for 7 with a runner in scoring position, along with Mark Canha getting picked off first base in the second, and Aramis Garcia hitting into a double play in the fifth.

But while the A’s shot themselves in the foot on the basepaths, starter Chris Bassitt was keeping the A’s afloat with his first exemplary outing of 2021.

Bassitt went six innings, striking out eight, and retiring 14 of 15 in one stretch. The 32-year old veteran relied heavily on his mid-90’s cutter throughout, and caused Detroit’ batters pause with occasional curves and changeups. After being uncharacteristically wild at Arizona, Bassitt controlled his space by starting 15 of 25 batters with strikes, and issuing just two free passes.

“I thought he threw great,” manager Bob Melvin said of Bassitt. “We just didn’t score enough, didn’t support him enough early on. But he only ends up giving up two runs and keeping us in the game.”

The sixth inning offered the Tigers an opportunity they couldn’t refuse or squander, that after an amazing streak of 23 scoreless innings dating back to the first inning on Friday. Candelario drew a leadoff walk, then Willi Castro singled. With two outs, and after both runners advanced, Harold Castro delivered a two-run single and the lead to the Tigers.

Castro’s master stroke effectively ended Bassitt’s afternoon as well, but it didn’t end Detroit’s misfortune at the Coliseum.

In the bottom of ninth with the game tied following Sean Murphy’s solo shot, the sun demanded it make an impactful, cameo appearance. Victor Reyes was cast as the victim, unable to locate Olson’s fly ball as it landed harmlessly 20 feet to his right. That set the A’s up with the potential game-winning run at second base 6with one out. After Matt Chapman struck out, and Murphy walked, Moreland entered as a pinch-hitter batting lefty against left-handed reliever Gregory Soto.

And Moreland made it work.

The A’s were hoping to continue their mastery of AL Central teams on Monday, but the Twins are dealing with COVID issues on multiple fronts and they were shutdown Saturday and Sunday against the Angels, then not cleared for Monday in Oakland. The hope is the Twins’ positive tests will cease and they can resume play with a Twins-A’s doubleheader on Tuesday.

The A’s hope so: they’ve won 69 of 89 since June 2017 against the Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Indians and Royals.

No Frustration When You Win: A’s slip past the Mariners 3-2 at T-Mobile Park

By Morris Phillips

The pandemic-truncated season doesn’t allow much time for teams to figure things out. But the A’s bought themselves a few extra measures with an unlikely, 3-2 win over the Mariners on Sunday.

The A’s are in mental quarantine, having hit just .175 over their last six games while scoring a measly 16 runs and enduring a three-game losing streak.

But they won the last two, they’re back over .500, and they just might get their full allotment of 51 more opportunities to look more like their true selves.

Ramon Laureano’s two-out, three-run homer in the fifth was all the offense the A’s could muster, but they made it stand up in a one-run win. The big moment was set up by two, subtle pieces of good fortune.

Former A’s starter Kendall Graveman was cruising for Seattle, but after two seasons removed from action due to Tommy John sugery, Graveman isn’t going to throw 25 plus pitches in the fifth inning of any start in 2020. Frustration had set in as well as that 25th pitch turned into a well-placed, infield single from Marcus Semien, the A’s struggling leadoff man hitting below .200 coming into the at-bat.

With runners at the corners, manager Scott Servais summoned reliever Anthony Misiewicz, a lefty facing the right-handed hitting Laureano with two outs. Why a lefty? Maybe Servais was focused on the possibility of lefthanded hitting Matt Olson coming up with the bases loaded, and wanted Misiewicz for the possibility of that task. Instead, the hot-hitting Laureano saw a second, consecutive off-speed sinker, this one in the middle of the plate, and he pounced without having to protect and speed up his bat. Laureano, Oakland’s one in-sync hitter, saw his swing produce a leisurely home run ball that exited at 98 mph.

“A hit would have been great, but a home run is a whole different ballgame,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt said of the support he received from Laureano. “It changed the whole complexion of the game. It was a big sigh of relief for everybody.”

Bassitt would depart after facing three batters in the sixth and after throwing 83 pitches. Leading 3-1 at that point, Bassitt earned the first win of the season for an A’s starter after the first eight starts resulted in an 0-4 record.

The A’s are one of six American League teams with a winning record, along with the Astros, Yankees, Twins, White Sox and the surprising Orioles at 5-3. Oakland maybe the least impressive of the six, but in a season where the top eight will qualify for postseason a winning record is where it’s at, all the style points can be inserted in October and early November. CBS’s Jon Heyman picked the A’s and Braves for an unlikely Fall Classic an he stood with the prediction over the weekend.

So now is not the time to fret over meager batting averages and faulty starters. The A’s have to just hang in there and remain positive.

“Now, we just gotta hit the ball on the barrel and find some holes,” Laureano said.

Frankie Montas faces Justus Sheffield in the finale of the four-game series on Monday.

The A’s devour the Tigers 10-2 on Saturday night in Oakland

Det 9-7
Graphic: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee @Charlieo1320

Oakland — The Oakland Athletics (83-59) did exactly what they had to do on Saturday night – beat up on a lesser opponent. The “Rooted in Oakland” crew demolished the lowly Detroit Tigers (42-99) by the score of 10-2. The Tigers have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball and have been eliminated from any possibility of playing in postseason in 2019.

The A’s realistically are destined to play in the AL Wild Card game. They want desperately to be the home team in that game. To be the home team, the A’s need wins and wins should come easier over teams that have losing records. It is truly a “survival of the fittest” environment from now until the end of the regular season.

The A’s have only four games remaining to play against a team with a winning record. They begin a four-game series in Houston on Monday night with the Astros who are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the majors at 93-50. Their other 16 games are with Detroit (1), Texas (6), Kansas City (3), LAA (2) and Seattle (4). The A’s must devour the weak in order to come out on top.

Chris Bassitt worked hard to earn a win

Bassitt struggled in the first two innings of the game on Saturday night. After giving up two hits in the top of first, Bassitt was bailed out by a 6-1-4 double play that is detailed later in this story.

In the top of the second, the A’s starter faced seven Detroit hitters. He gave up two runs off three hits and he hit a batter. The Tigers left two runners on base. Despite having some difficulties, Bassitt struck out three batters and appeared to be starting to find himself.

Bassitt would go on to pitch 6.0-innings giving up just the two runs (both earned) off eight hits. He walked none but did hit one Detroit batter. Bassitt struck out 11 Tigers in 6.0-innings on the mound. That is a career high for Bassitt and the most for an A’s pitcher in a game this season.

After the game, Bob Melvin said, “Bassitt often gets better as he goes along in a game. He also gave our bullpen a break by going six innings.”

Bassitt is now 10-5 on the season with a 3.64 ERA. This is the first time Oakland has had three 10-game winners since 2013 when they had five.

Wild Card Standings

The A’s now have sole possession of the second Wild Card slot in the American League. They are one game back of Tampa Bay (85-59) who is in the number one spot and would host the one-game playoff if the season ended today.

The Indians are 1.5-games behind the A’s for the second spot in the Wild Card race at 82-61. Boston is 7.0-games back and has an elimination number of 14. It would take a miracle and a massive collapse by the Rays, A’s or Indians for the Red Sox to become a part of the race.

Focus on the A’s

Det c 9-7
Olson gets congratulated Photo: @Athletics

  • Matt Olson went 4-for-4 in the game. He hit his 29th home run of the season in the fifth inning off Jordan Zimmerman on 1-2 pitch that sailed into the right-field seats. Olson also added three RBI to bring his total for the season to 73. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
  • Jurickson Profar matched his career high for home runs when he hit number 20 of the season in the second inning off Zimmerman. Profar is batting .340 over his last 15 games. He has also been very helpful to his team by being able to play both outfield and infield as needed.
  • Matt Chapman hit his 32nd home of the season in the eighth inning which ties Eric Chavez for the most in a season by an Athletics third baseman.
  • Oakland now has six players with 20-plus home runs which is a franchise record.
  • A’s pitchers combined for a total of 19 strike outs on Saturday night – a season high.

Spotlight on Detroit

  • Jordan Zimmerman allowed six earned runs for the first time since July 19. He previously had allowed a total of seven earned runs in four career starts against the A’s. Zimmerman is now 1-10 on the season.
  • Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 in the game which gave him a team-leading 38th multiple-hit game for 2019. It was also the 804th multiple-hit game of his career tying him with Ivan Rodriguez for 39th-most in MLB history.
  • Harold Castro had 4-for-4 game with the bat with two RBI for the Tigers. That tied his season high.
  • The Tigers have not had a winning record versus the AL West since 2014. They are 53-112 against the division since 2015.

Up next

LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the ball for the A’s and make his second start of the season to close out this three-game series with the Tigers. He had a no-decision in first start of the season last Sunday in New York against the Yankees. The Tigers will counter with LHP Daniel Norris (3-11, 4.76 ERA). He had a no-decision in his last start on Tuesday in Kansas City.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM at the Oakland Coliseum.

Shouldn’t the infield fly rule have been called?

In the top of the first inning with runners at first and second and one out, the Tigers Christin Stewart hit an infield fly into foul territory on the third-base side. The wind then pushed the ball back into the field of play. Matt Chapman attempted to catch the ball but was unable to do so. Marcus Semien picked the ball up and tossed it to Bassitt who was covering third. The pitcher stepped on the bag and Harold Castro – the runner at second was called out. Bassitt then alertly threw the ball to Profar who stepped on second base and Miguel Cabrera – the runner at first was called out on what scored as a 6-1-4 double play.

As a former amateur umpire, I was immediately looking for one of the four umpires to have his right arm up in the air to indicate that the infield fly rule was in effect. I was shocked when no call such call was being made. So was Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire who immediately came out to discuss the situation with the Homeplate umpire – Dan Bellino.

The umpires explained that the infield fly rule is to be called when the ball can be caught with “ordinary effort”. The “men in blue” said in their opinion Chapman would have needed to use extraordinary effort to have made the catch of Stewart’s fly ball, so the infield fly rule did not apply.

In this reporter’s opinion (and as a former umpire), the umpiring crew was caught off guard when an apparent foul ball came back into fair territory.

 

Giants crush A’s 10-5 in game three of the Bay Bridge Series 2

bb1
Graphic: @Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — The A’s literally snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory on Saturday night as they watched a 4-2 lead going into the top of the eighth inning be wiped out when the San Francisco exploded for eight runs on seven hits off five Oakland pitchers. It was simply a stunning rally that the A’s did not see coming.

For the Giants, it felt like they had pent up emotion and energy that just had to be released. Madison Bumgarner did his best to keep his team in the game to give them the chance to win. When the A’s pitching staff gave the Giants the slightest of openings, the men from across the Bay took the opportunity and did the most with it.

The Giants took game one (game 3 of 4 total) of the Bay Bridge Series in Oakland 10-5 on Saturday night before 56,367 fans who were treated their money’s worth for coming out to the ballpark. The Giants scored 10 runs off 13 hits and left six men on base. For the A’s, they put five runs up on the board on 10 hits while leaving 10 men on base and committing one error. The game took three hours and 50 minutes to complete.

The Giants record for the season improved to 64-65 with the victory while the A’s fell to 74-54 on the year. San Francisco is now 5.0 games out the second Wild Card spot in the National League. The A’s are 0.5 games behind the Rays for the second Wild Card slot in the American League.

In this type of game where 14 pitchers were used, determining the winning and losing pitcher is almost “voodoo” science. Sam Coonrod (3-0) gets credit for the win while Yusmeiro Petit(3-3) was tagged with the loss.

Neither starter figured into the final decision

Chris Bassitt pitched 5.2 innings for the A’s on Saturday night. The right-hander ran into some trouble as he started through the Giants order for the third time. He gave up a home run to Brandon Crawford on 0-1 pitch with two out in the top of the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth inning, Evan Longoria drove in Alex Dickerson from second base to tie the game at 2-2. That would be all for Bassitt as he was replaced on the mound by Jake Diekman.

Bassitt gave up two runs (both earned) off four hits (1 HR). He struck out five Giants and walked none. Bassitt threw 92 pitches (64 strikes).

Madison Bumgarner worked 5.0 innings for San Francisco in the contest. He also gave up two runs. The first run came off a leadoff home run by Mark Canha in the home half of the second inning that easily cleared the left-field fence. The A’s touched “Mad Bum” for another run in the bottom of the third inning.

Jurickson Profar walked to lead off the third for Oakland. Josh Phegley then singled to left field which moved Profar to second base. With one out, Matt Chapman hit a double to left that drove Profar in from second base to score the A’s second run of the game. The A’s took a temporary 2-0 at that point.

Bumgarner also gave up two runs (both earned) on two hits (1 HR). He struck five A’s and walked one. Bumgarner threw 97 pitches (64 strikes).

Did I just see a sacrifice?

Jurickson Profar was the leadoff hitter for the A’s in the bottom of the seventh, and he hit a double to right field. Catcher Josh Phegley then laid down a sacrifice bunt on the third-base side of the infield that moved Profar to third base (yes, everyone including the Giants was surprised). Marcus Semien followed up with an RBI single to left field. Matt Chapman singled to center sending Semien to third base. That would all for Giants reliever Jandel Gustave who would be replaced by Fernando Abad.

Matt Olson was the first Athletic to face Abad, and he hit a single to right that drove Semien home to score the fourth run of the game for Oakland. That would end the scoring for the A’s in the seventh inning and gave them a 4-2 lead, which proved to be not enough.

bb2
That’s a lot of fans! Graphic: @Athletics

Focus on the A’s

  • Mark Canha hit his 20th home run of the year off Bumgarner in the second inning of the game. He also extended his hitting streak to eight games.
  • The A’s now have five players with 20-plus home runs on the season: Canha (20), Chapman (29), Laureano (21), Olson (26), and Semien (22).
  • Oakland has a record of 22-11 versus left-handed starters in 2019.

Spotlight on the Giants

  • Brandon Crawford hit his 10th home run of the season in the win on Saturday night and his first home since July 15 at Colorado.
  • Kevin Pillar has hit safely in 13 of his last 16 games and is hitting .397 over that stretch.
  • Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 in the game, was hit-by-pitch and posted two RBI. He is hitting .347 since June 30.

Up next

The Bay Bridge Series concludes on Sunday afternoon at 1:07 PM at the Coliseum. The Giants will send rookie RHP Logan Webb (1-0, 1.80 era) to the hill to make his second start of the season. He made his major league debut last Saturday in Arizona picked up the win. Expect quite a few fans in the stands rooting for Webb who grew up in Rocklin just east of Sacramento.

The A’s will counter with LHP Brett Anderson (10-9, 4.06 era). Anderson has been having a rough go of things as he is 1-4 with a 5.02 ERA in his last five starts. Run support has been a big issue for Anderson. The A’s have provided three runs or fewer in 14 of his last 17 starts. Anderson was the losing pitcher in the game with the Giants in San Francisco on August 13.

Player’s Weekend Uni’s

The black and white themed uniforms created an interesting effect on the field Saturday night. It was really a throwback feel. In fact, I felt like I was watching the movie “Eight Men Out” at times.

I really liked the all-black uniforms the Giants wore as the visiting team. They were as the guy says in the SUV commercial — “sharp!”. The all-white worn by the A’s were had a very clean look, but the lettering and numerals were washed out. If they had outlined the lettering and numbers in black, the home uniforms would have been “sharp”.

The A’s pitchers did wear black hats because it was determined that the hitters were having trouble picking the baseball up against the all-white caps.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Giants get swept by Cubs, head to Oakland for two-game weekend series

Photo credit: @SFGiants

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 The Giants were swept in three games in Chicago two of them were loses by just one run. Do you view the Giants as a formidable opponent in their wild card chances seeing how they played against a competitive team like the Cubs? Dropping 14 of their last 17 games at Wrigley.

#2 Thursday’s game at Wrigley proved to be one for the books. Despite the loss, the Giants and Cubs played to a 1-0 final and former Cub starter Jeff Samardjiza went seven innings with two hits and one run.

#3 For Samardjiza, was this an advantage pitching in a park where he played part of career and that he was familiar with?

#4 The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks got the call as the starter and didn’t disappoint going seven innings pitching a three hit shutout. He had good movement on his pitches on Thursday.

#5 The Giants have a rare Friday off before playing at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. Going for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner (8-8, 3.72 ERA), and for the A’s, Chris Bassitt (9-5, 3.61 ERA).

Michael does the Giants podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

A’s make it three wins in a row over the Astros with a big 8-4 victory on Saturday

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The scoreboard just kept showing happy news for A’s fans Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Oakland — A’s starting pitcher Chris Bassitt had to throw 31 pitches to get out of the top of the first against the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon. That usually means two things:

  1. The chances of that starting pitcher being in the game after the fifth inning is almost nil. In fact, a starter who throws that many pitches in the first inning almost never lasts past the fourth inning.
  2. The other fact you can take the bank is that a pitcher who starts a game by throwing that many pitches will finish the game with a no-decision.

Someone forgot to tell Chris Bassitt that he needed to conform to the standards of baseball on Saturday. After that rough first inning, the A’s starter pulled things together in the second inning.

Bassitt was back in hot water in the top the third inning as the Astros scored two runs on three hits. When the inning ended, there were two Houston runners on base which means the inning could have been much worse.

Bassitt’s team members really picked him up in the home half of the third inning. The Athletics put five runs up on the scoreboard to stake their pitcher to a three-run lead. The amazing part of the third inning rally was the fact that the A’s scored those runs without hitting a home run.

Bassitt pitched a scoreless fourth inning and gave up one run to Houston in the fifth inning to make it a  5-3 game in favor of Oakland. The consensus in the press box was that we had seen the last of Bassitt for the day.

The Astros sent their starting pitcher – Rogelio Armenteros – to the showers and sent Chris Denvenski to the mound to face the A’s in the bottom of the fifth inning. Oakland took advantage of a walk, hit-by-pitch, two singles, and a sacrifice fly to put three more runs up on the board. That cleared the way for Bassitt to come back out for the sixth inning.

The first hitter to face Bassitt in the sixth inning was Yuli Gurriel who singled to left field and everyone thought that was going to be all for Bassitt, but Bob Melvin left the right-hander in the game. The next batter – catcher Martin Maldonado – hit a ball on the ground to shortstop Marcus Semien who fielded it and threw to Corban Joseph at second to erase Gurriel. Joseph turned and threw to first to get Maldonado for the double play. Bassitt was able to get Jake Marisnick to pop out to Joseph at second to end the inning.

Bassitt finished his six innings throwing a career-high 116 pitches. In his postgame comments, mangers Bob Melvin said that Bassitt had told him he was ready to go to 120 pitches to get the job done. That is just plain grit and determination.

With the help of his team on offense, the A’s won the game 8-4 and the winning pitcher was Chris Bassitt who now has a record of 9-5 for the season with a 3.61 ERA.

Focus on the A’s (71-52)

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Treinen gets Bregman to fly out to end the seventh inning Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

  • Chris Bassitt has posted a 2.36 ERA (11 earned runs over 42.0 innings) since the All-Star Break. The win on Saturday was his first victory over the Astros since July 11, 2018.
  • The Astros cannot keep Matt Chapman off base. Chapman went 3-for-3 at the plate in the game and two of the hits were doubles (31). He also walked once and he reached base after being hit by a pitch. Chapman also recorded his 70th RBI when he walked with the bases loaded in the third inning.
  • Matt Olson had a 2-for-4 game with a walk and two RBI (60). The A’s are 56-31 since Olson came off the injury list on May 7.
  • Catcher Josh Phegley made his return to the field by having a 2-for-4 game for his team. He went on the injured list on July 31. Phegley is batting .329 in 31-day games and .205 in 52-night games.
  • Take note of this factoid: this was only the third Oakland victory of the season in which they did not hit a home run. Bob Melvin said after the game that it is important for his team to know they can win without hitting a long ball.

Checking on the Astros (78-46)

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Yordan Alvarez finishes his HR trot in the eighth inning Photo: Charlie O Mallonee

  • Houston’s designated hitter – 6-foot-5, 242 pound – Yordan Alvarez pounded two more home runs on Saturday. He now has 19 home runs and 55 RBI in his first 52 major league games. That is really scary given the rest of the Astros lineup.
  • Michael Brantley (every team wants a hitter like him) extended his hitting streak to 11 games by going 2-for-4 in the game. He has four consecutive multi-hit games and 50 for the season – the most in the American League.
  • Alex Bregman put his 80th RBI of the year in the book today. He joins Devers, Bogaerts, Kepler, and Rosario as players in the American League with 80-plus RBI.

Up next

Without trying to jinx the A’s, they will go for the four-game sweep of the Astros on Sunday 1:07 PM at the Coliseum in what should be an excellent pitching matchup. The Astros will send RHP Zack Greinke to the mound. Greinke is 12-4 on the season with a 2.91 ERA. He was a winner in his last start in Chicago versus the White Sox when he worked 6.0 innings and allowed only two runs in a Houston 6-2 victory.

The A’s will counter with LHP Brett Anderson who is 10-8 with a 3.95 ERA. This will be his 21st start of the season. Anderson was tagged with the loss in his last start on Tuesday in San Francisco against the Giants. He pitched 6.0 innings allowing two runs (earned) off six hits. He walked none and struck out four.