Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani seen pitching in the fifth inning against the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum on Mon Jul 19, 2021 (AP News photo)
LA Angels 1 – 8 – 0
Oakland 4 – 7- 1
By Lewis Rubman
Monday, July 19, 2021
OAKLAND–Let’s pause for a moment to think about what the slumping A’s (54-42) were up against tonight. Facing them on the mound was a man who fit Cervantes’ description of Lope de Vega, perhaps the greatest poet and playwright of Spain’s golden age, “one of nature’s monsters.”
Shoei Ohtani, fresh from opening the All Star Game for the American League, brought a record of 4-1, 3.49 with him. The relentlessly improving Los Angeles Angels (46-47) were outhitting the Athletics by 27 points, .259 to .232, and their starting lineup also featured a man who fit Cervantes’ description of Lope de Vega, Shoei Ohtani, the MLB leader in home runs, with 34 in 314 at bats.
Facing this juggernaut, the home team relied on Cole Irvin (6-8,3.65), who in spite of losing his last start and, with it, a three game winning streak, was 3-1, 2.95 in his last seven starts.
On the offensive side of the ledger, Oakland recently has been hitting below its modest average for the season. They were batting a lowly. .208 in their last dozen and a half games, good for only 64 runs, and have shown an alarming penchant for leaving runners on base, especially if they’re in scoring position
Tonight, the starting pitchers battled to a stand off, but Oakland used long balls by Ramón Laureano and Matt Olson against the Halos´ bullpen to take home a hard fought victory, 4-1.
The Angels fell victim to The Curse of the Lead Off Double in the first frame. Two innings later, David Fletcher, who had hit the fatidic two bagger, singled to center and tried to score from first on Ohtani’s single to center. Laureano and Andrus made two perfect throws that allowed Murphy to tag the fleet footed Fletcher out at home, a call that was confirmed after the obligatory, but thankfully brief, review.
It was the A’s chance to threaten in the bottom of the third. With one down, Kemp drew a walk. Canha dropped a fly that fell in front of the diving Adam Eaton in right for a double that sent Canha to third. Ohtani got Andrus to strike out swinging an 0-2 slider, bringing Olson to the plate. He grounded out to second baseman Fletcher, playing in short right field. Two more RISP stranded.
Kemp’s was the Athletics’ last hit until Olson singled to right with two out in the sixth, Oakland’s third safety in what was still a scoreless tie. Lowrie lined out to Ohtani to end the inning.
Ohtani didn’t pitch after the sixth. He moved to right field having surrendered three hits and a walk and chalking up eight strike outs. He threw 96 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Steve Cishek replaced Ohtani on mound and promptly walked Moreland and Chapman before throwing Laureano a 78 mph slider that he A’s centerfielder deposited in the left field seats for his 14th home run of the year. It put the Athletics ahead 3-0 and ended Cishek’s tenure on the mound, where Tony Watson took his place and put out the fire, but not before Kemp hit a bunt single and stole second.
When Adam Eaton opened the eighth with a single, Irvin gave way to Lou Trivino. The A’s starter had held the Angels to seven hits and a walk. Of his 84 pitches, 59 were strikes, and he struck out three of the crew from Anaheim. Lou Trivino retired the next three batters, the last of whom was Ohtani.
The bottom of the eighth began with Alex Claudio on the hill for for the Angels and Matt Olson the plate for the Athletics. Four pitches later, Olson was back at the plate, crossing it with his 24th home run of 2021, a 392 foot blast to right. Claudio stayed on to strike out Seth Brown, pinch hitting for Moreland, before handing the ball over to Junior Guerra, who got the final two outs.
Trivino stayed on to try for the six out save. He almost didn’t make it. After walking Phil Gosselin with one down, he surrendered a double to rookie Brandon Marsh, who went 3 for 4 in this, his second big league game. Trivino got Kurt Suzuki out on a fly to center, but Andrus flubbed Taylor Ward’s grounder that would ended the game. It took a great catch by Chapman of a foul by Taylor Ward next to the rolled up tarp behind the A’s bullpen to end the contest.
Irvin got the well deserved win, to bring his record to 7-8, 3.42. Trivino sweated his way to his 15th save. Cishek got the loss.
The A’s home stand will wind up tomorrow, Tuesday, at 12:37 with James Kaprielian (4-3, 2,90) penciled in to start against José Suárez (4-2-2.29)