Oakland starter Andrew Triggs knew what was on the line Sunday afternoon in the final game of a three game series against the Orioles — a good opportunity to sweep one of the worst teams in all of baseball this season.
The Athletics (18-16) won Sunday, 2-1, beating Baltimore to earn a sweep and send the Orioles (8-26) deeper into the American League cellar.
Manager Bob Melvin complimented Buck Showalter, saying he expects the Baltimore skipper to help his club turn its season around:
“You just kind of hoped they didn’t get it going against. … But it was nice to be able to sweep. Going into the series you try to look at each game individually as opposed to a sweep but after you win the first two games you want to sweep the series.”
Triggs (W, 3-1, 4.41 ERA) wasted no time tying his career high in strikeouts with nine in seven solid innings giving the middle relievers some much-needed rest. After earning his second win since April 7, the Oakland starter said his ability to execute locations kept things in rhythm one day after the A’s won a game that had none:
“Everything felt relatively smooth and guys were making plays behind me. I was generally putting the ball where I wanted to and it makes it easier to flow with an outing like this when there isn’t much traffic out there.”
The A’s were unable to muster anything after Marcus Semien led off the game with a single, letting an early threat pass them by.
Pedro Alvarez hit a solo home run (7) in the second inning off of Triggs on a 2-1 pitch count travelling more than 400 feet into the right field stands to take an early 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t until the fourth inning when the A’s started to make some noise, getting started with a Matt Joyce double. Joyce, who had picked up just two hits in 29 at-bats (.069 average) since April 21, went 2-for-4 Sunday. He said:
“Baseball is tough, and hitting in general is tough. There was the first two or three weeks there where I was squaring up the ball right at people and I felt I was thrown out of whack. It was nice today to mix a couple of hits in after battling and grinding it out this last week.”
Mark Canha followed reaching second base safely on a fielder’s choice and throwing error by Alvarez at third base. Matt Olson, who has been hitting everything hard of late, doubled to center and put the A’s on the board. The inning saw two runs score, one given to them on a boneheaded error from Alvarez, when he winged one over second baseman Engelb Vielma well into right field letting Joyce off the hook in a rundown.
Orioles starter Alex Cobb (L, 0-4, 7.61 ERA) was victimized by the boo-boo, allowing two runs, including one unearned, in taking the loss despite posting his best start of the season.
“My cutter and slider (were) better than it had been the last time out and we tweaked a few things here and there in the bullpen but it’s about making good pitches down there in the zone.”
In his last inning pitched, Triggs was again stellar against the heart of the order coaxing a groundout from Manny Machado, striking out Chris Davis and finishing with another groundout from Mark Trumbo to end his performance on a solid note.
Lou Trivino came in for Triggs in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning. Said Melvin
“When guys live Trivino step up, a guy who came up from Triple A and pitching the eighth inning of a one run game, those are the type of contributions over the course of the season that are important if you are going to win.”
Closer Blake Treinen (S, 5, 1.13 ERA) made things interesting in the final inning after pinch-hitter Trey Mancini hit an infield single then advanced to second on a wild pitch that sailed over catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s head. The veteran backstop was able to settle his closer, and after Machado was intentionally walked Treinen coaxed a popout from Davis.
All told, Oakland pitchers allowed five runs over 30 innings — good for a 1.50 ERA — while striking out 40 batters, an A’s franchise record for a three-game series. Said Lucroy:
“It’s an important part, for me especially being behind the plate everyday, getting our pitchers rolling and doing the best job we can in keeping the opposing offenses off-balance.”
The World Champion Houston Astros (22-14) will make their first visit to Rickey Henderson Field on Monday trotting out Cy Young Award Winner Dallas Keuchel (1-5, 3.98 ERA). Keuchel has struggled early on this season accounting for more than a third of the team losses and has a lifetime 3.14 ERA against the A’s in Oakland. The A’s will counter with veteran Brett Anderson (0-0, 2.84 ERA), who will be looking to record his first win of the season after making his only start of the season Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed just two runs in 6-1/3 innings with four strikeouts in that game.
Manager Bob Melvin said Paul Blackburn (right forearm) threw off the mound for the first time in over a month and what he saw from the young right-handed pitcher seemed “very encouraging.” … Yusmeiro Petit was not available to pitch on Sunday after bouncing back Saturday night from his worst outing of the season Friday night. Melvin acknowledged the nuances of pitching and how Petit’s experience in pitching in a number of roles was not going to shake his confidence at all moving forward. … Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones did not play Sunday after being hit by a pitch on the hand by Santiago Casilla Saturday night.