Home runs from Marcus Semien, Jurickson Profar and Sean Murphy helped the A’s top the Los Angeles Angels for a 4-0 win Wednesday night, with Tanner Roark (W, 9-8, 3.86 ERA) and the Oakland bullpen keeping the Angels scoreless.
Oakland ended the night with five hits, three of them being home runs. Murphy picked up his first major league hit, a solo home run to right field in the fifth. Sheldon Neuse followed with a single to right, then Semien followed with a two-run homer to left field giving him 26 this season and the A’s a 4-0 lead.
Sean Murphy made his MLB debut behind the plate and was nervous during his first at-bat, but got more comfortable at the plate and behind the plate as the game went on:
“Tanner was great. He is a vet and he has this guy making his first start back there. Of course, nervous but he worked with me every step of the way. He let me know what I was doing and what he needed me to do. I am glad he was there, he helped me along the way and I appreciate him being so patient out there.”
Murphy said he knew he hit the barrel on his hit and hoped it would keep carrying or at least get down for a hit, but the rookie hit it over the wall. The communication between Murphy and Roark started out a little off, but they found their groove as the game went on.
Roark was thankful for the defense tonight and mentioned Profar and Chapman’s outstanding plays. He also spoke about Murphy’s performance and how he began to trust him:
“It is tough to be a catcher for the first time and working with a pitcher for the first time in the big leagues so as we progressed he got more aware of what I wanted to throw and a better feel and we started rolling those last three innings we started rolling a lot better. Getting quick outs.”
Profar had a great night in left field and at the plate. He hit a solo home run to give the A’s their first run, and he made two diving catches in the outfield.
Bob Melvin on Profar in the outfield his third time in the past ten days:
“He had two really really good plays. The second one he got a really good jump on, I thought the second one was down and he ends up making a great play, his at bats are good. He is playing some of his best baseball right now and it is impressive to see him playing a different position out there.”
Roark got out of sticky situations all game, coming out after going 6-2/3 scoreless. He struck out six, walked two, gave up five hits and had a wild pitch but was able to keep seven base runners from scoring.
Melvin on Roark’s pitching performance:
“115 pitches or whatever, we don’t typically do that but he was rolling them pretty good and its the foul balls that kind of get him in trouble as far as the pitch count goes. I think he was pretty effective the entire night and it was tough taking him out right there but fourth time facing Trout is a little tough. Petit has been the guy to come in during those situations.”
Jake Jewell relieved lefty starter Patrick Sandoval (L, 0-2, 4.91 ERA) in the fourth. He pegged Mark Canha, who was not happy about it as he was escorted by the umpire to first base after he said something to Jewell. Jewell was able to strike out Khris Davis and Chad Pinder to end the inning, and was greeted by his team in the dugout with fist pounds and even a hug, but it would all go downhill for him in the fifth.
Jewell gave up four hits and three runs on the night, two of them home runs.
A’s relievers performed well, not allowing any runs, which has not been a theme for the bullpen lately. Yusmeiro Petit needed just two pitches to get Mike Trout to pop out to right field. Joakim Soria pitched an inning and had a strikeout. Liam Hendricks did what he does best, and had a perfect ninth while striking out two to secure the win.
Melvin admitted the bullpen has not been as consistent as he would like over the course of the season but said they are doing what they can to get wins.
Murphy, who hit a home run and caught a scoreless game during his first time up in the big leagues, couldn’t have been more humble:
“I am happy about the shutout. I am happy that we won. Stepping into a ball club that is competing every night and needs to win every night it is important that I go out there and do my job to win. I am glad we won. I could have gone 0-for-4 but as long as we won I would have been happy.”
His mother Marg and father Mike along with his sister and girlfriend were in the stands cheering him on and celebrated his big hit. He had a good group of people supporting him from the stands that he is close with.
It was a great night for the starting pitcher and catcher. The team played great defense and offense. Murphy explained his emotions throughout the game:
“I would be lying if i said I wasn’t nervous or if I didn’t have any anxiety up there. Once your settled in the game and of course the home run helps I felt much better and much more comfortable out there. It is the same game I have been playing so it is nothing new.”