The Oakland A’s didn’t make it look easy, but earned a 5-3 win Friday night playing small ball. The Angels put up a good fight but left too many men stranded on the bases.
Mike Fiers (W, 3-1, 5.81 ERA) watched his earned runs score from the bench but still walked away with a win.
Marcus Semien got the A’s hot first inning started when he raked LHP Andrew Heaney‘s second pitch of the night 419 feet to straight-away center for a 1-0 lead. The A’s (19-8) would add on two more runs before Heaney (L, 1-2, 5.52 ERA) found his rhythm.
Matt Chapman followed with a one-out line drive standing double that took one bounce before it hit the left-field wall. Mark Canha drew a walk on eight pitches and Stephen Piscotty brought them in on a first-pitch double, also off the wall to left, which made it 3-0 in the first inning.
Piscotty said the team’s success against lefties has more to do with studying scouting reports rather than an advantage against left-handers in general:
“It was great to score early. Takes a little pressure off early, lets the start settle in. I thought Mike did a great job and we add on later in the game and that was also huge so always good to get off to a good start and keep the line moving.”
Fiers started to struggle after Anthony Rendon led off the fourth inning with a single and Albert Pujols followed with a one-out double. Anthony Bemboom then walked to load the bases, but Fiers miraculously got out of the inning without allowing a run.
The Angels (18-9) finally scored in the fifth inning, and Fiers was lucky to only allow one run after it started out very shaky. David Fletcher‘s first hit of the night was a double to lead off the inning, then Tommy LaStella walked.
Fiers knows how talented the Angels are. He has seen them before and he knows the damage their lineup can do. When asked about Fletcher’s double he said:
“I am not surprised… I don’t know what he does in the offseason or what he does, but I think it is working. The guy puts the barrel on the ball, very tough out and he is all around a great baseball player. In the infield, he does everything in the front part of the order to get those big guys.”
Bob Melvin said he was happy the A’s were able to hold Trout to one hit, but emphasized how impactful Rendon is as well:
“The guy behind him, makes things even more difficult. As difficult as it is to deal with Trout induivudakly, to have him behind him and as hot as he is right now, he is absolutely on fire before the four hits today. Usually we are either pretty careful with Trout or we walk him and that is not an option right now with Randon. So yes, it is important to get him out and limit the damage with him but it is a whole different dynamic now with Rendon.”
Rendon was 3-for-3 going into the at bat with runners on first and second and singled to bring in Fletcher to close the gap to 3-1.
Mike Mayers relieved Heaney with two outs in the fifth after he retired the first two batters, then gave up back-to-back doubles from Canha and Matt Olson which made it 4-1. Piscotty followed with his third RBI of the night, singling up the middle to drive in Olson from second for a 5-1 A’s lead.
Fiers came into the sixth inning with 88 pitches and one earned run but the inning would end with him relieved. Fiers struck out leadoff hitter Jo Adell for the first out, but it would all go downhill after that.
Bemboom was hit by a 84-mph slider before Simmons made his first appearance since spraining his ankle running to first base during Opening Weekend in Oakland. Simmons singled for the second time on Friday, and that was Fiers’ last batter. J.B Wendelken relieved Fiers with runners on first and second with one out.
Wendelken has been the go-to guy when it comes to getting out of sticky situations with runners on base. An unlucky play would bring in the Angels final two runs of the night. Wendelken’s first batter was Fletcher, who singled to load the bases. LaStella flew out to right field for the second out and Piscotty did an excellent job of not allowing runners to tag on the play.
With two out, Mike Trout hit a bat-breaking grounder at a diving Olson, but the ball hit off the gold glove first baseman and Chad Pinder had to adjust his whole body after the ball changed direction when it hit off Olson’s glove and rolled softly to right field with both right-side infielders on the ground. Two runs scored to make it 5-3.
Melvin explained Trout’s only hit, saying not much could be done on the play that allowed two of the Angels three runs:
“He [Pinder] is alright. On that play that Trout hit the ball, he kinda had to go to another direction and just kinda got stuck in the dirt a little bit, he should be fine but I just wanted to make sure we were fully healthy out there in the ninth inning.”
Melvin explained how tough the Angels lineup is, and how Fiers performed:
“The second base runner, fourth time around that line up especially with top of the order, it is difficult to face the first four or five guys they have for the fourth time so it would have been a tougher decision if it was just one base runner but with two, it made it a little easier. But he pitched well tonight and ends up getting a win, obviously a coupe runs scored after he came out of the game on a fluke hit but I think between and Manaea both, they are making strides and pitching better.”
The A’s still couldn’t take a deep breath because that play put runners on the corners with Rendon, the hottest batter of the night, at the plate. He would hit a ball to deep center that Laureano caught at the track to end the two-run inning.
Piscotty was standing besides Olson and Pinder when the play happened and explained the two-run blooper from Trout:
“I thought maybe the ball hit his bat twice, I don’t really know what happened. But it definitetly fooled a lot of us and sometimes that happens. Tough break there but we were able to limit the damage and go on from that.”
T.J McFarland pitched a scoreless seventh, and Soria followed with a one-hit eighth inning. Liam Hendriks had to face Rendon to lead off the ninth, and he singled for his fourth hit of the night. Hendriks struck out the next three batters to end the game with just 13 pitches.
Chris Bassitt faces Angels Griffen Canning (0-3) Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m.
Oakland has won five of the last six Mike Fiers starts. … Marcus Semien hit his eighth career lead off homer. … The A’s have the best record in the American League and are a game behind the Dodgers in the Majors. … Oakland has won nine straight home games.