The Oakland A’s split a two-game series in Colorado after a 3-1 win on Wednesday. A beautiful dive home from Tony Kemp, a Matt Olson double, plus solid pitching gave the A’s (31-19) their fourth win of their eight-game road trip.
Mike Fiers (W, 6-2, 4.62 ERA) threw six strong for his sixth win of the season, and Liam Hendriks recorded a five-out save in his first outing at Coors Field and his only appearance on the three-state road trip.
The A’s played 16 games in 13 days and were 9-7 in those games. Wednesday’s win was huge for the A’s, said Bob Melvin:
“This was a big win for us. Probably as big as any we have had this year… to go through it in .500 and it is just a big swing with the games that are left in the season … Mike [Fiers] was fantastic … all the pitching did a great job. We did just enough offensively and these guys ground through what was a difficult probably three days for us, to try find some energy and go out there and win against a good team.”
German Márquez (L, 2-6, 4.33 ERA) tried to pick off Kemp in the third, who had led off with a walk. An off-target throw — the Rockies only error of the game — allowed Kemp to land on second. Marcus Semien walked before Robbie Grossman hit into a fielder’s choice. Ryan McMahon decided to throw to third, but Kemp rounded home before the throw reached Rockies gold glove third baseman Nolan Arenado. Arenado threw home and Kemp was caught in a pickle.
As Kemp was headed back to third, Rockies catcher Elías Diaz threw back to Arenado, who tagged Semien out at third then dropped the ball before he throwing home to first baseman Josh Fuentes. Kemp made a beautiful ducking dive under the tag and somehow landed on home plate to make it 1-0.
Hendriks said Kemp’s unnatural move was a play that most big leaguers don’t make, and was happy to see the A’s get on the board quickly:
“I think he [Fuentes] was just expecting him to run into the tag and then got really surprised when he didn’t because the glove didn’t move. He just stuck it out there and Kemp just over ran it.”
Fiers had three perfect innings, his first two and his final, needing only 10 pitches in each of them. He pitched six full innings and, even though he is still the only starter to not make it to a seventh inning, he finished with just 76 pitches. He allowed seven hits, struck out four and didn’t walk a single batter his one run start.
Melvin said 80 pitches in this ballpark feels like 100:
“He [Fiers] was terrific. To keep those guys in the ballpark and really, a few of those hits that he gave up were just scratched hits whether it was a bloop or two strikes shooting it the other way in a shift… he had to work hard. “
The Rockies quickly battled back and tied it in the third 1-1. Back-to-back singles from McMahon and Tony Wolters put runners on the corners with the top of the order up and one out. Raimel Tapia hit a shallow fly ball to center that dropped and McMahon scored with bases loaded one out. Trevor Story hit into a fielder’s choice to Semien who tried to turn two to Kemp at second but Story was safe at first. Fiers was able to get out of the inning without allowing another run.
Wolters led off the fifth inning with a double, which led to Olson making the biggest play of the game when he took a hard ground ball from Raimel Tapia. Olson could have made an easy out at first, but the gold glover used his high baseball IQ and targeted the lead runner out at third. Olson made the throw to Jake Lamb who tagged Wolters out at third. The play saved Fiers a run because Trevor Story followed Tapia’s at bat with a single which would have given the Rockies (22-26) their second run had Tapia landed on third.
Bob Melvin on the play:
“That was the play of the game. Now, score of the game right there, a man on third with less than two outs, it is a completely different game if they scored that run. We have seen him do it before. Very rarely do you see a first baseman do it that easily, he gets rid of the ball like a middle infielder and he is always prepared for it. It doesn’t surprise us.”
Marquez left after two runs scored on three hits in the sixth. A’s DH Tommy La Stella singled before Olson put an end to his 0-for-18 hitless streak with a bomb to deep center for a standing double which landed La Stella on third with no outs. Mark Canha grounded out to second for an RBI to bring in La Stella to make it 2-1. Lamb hit a hard line drive to right, scoring Olson to extend the Oakland lead to 3-1.
Jake Diekman relieved Fiers and pitched the seventh and into the eighth before he was relieved by Hendriks, who threw a five-out save and only allowed one hit to Kevin Pillar. Hendriks said:
“The one that really moved the way I didn’t want to was the one Pillar got a hit on, obviously it was meant to miss his bat but it didn’t quite do that. I am going to have to text him later and be like dude what the hell your broken bat single, this is killing me.”
Marcus Semien lead off game with a double and was left stranded. The A’s were 0-9 headed into Wednesday’s game having men in scoring position against the Rockies. They left Semien stranded in the first and Lamb in the second before the A’s snapped the streak in the third. (Lamb was 2-for-4).
Liam Hendriks said every time Lamb gets a hit the A’s bullpen yells “baaah” mimicking a Lamb noise. He has been a great add to the A’s offense and defense and tied his hits (5) for the A’s which is equivalent to how many he had all season with his former team the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The A’s have played 12 games in the past nine days with three double-headers and have earned a much needed off day on Thursday. The A’s were 3-4 in the 8-game road trip and will play in Oakland on Friday for a three game Battle of the Bay series.
Marcus Semien lead off the game with a double and was left stranded. The A’s were 0-for-9 heading into Wednesday having men in scoring position against the Rockies. … Birthday Boy Robbie Grossman stole third, his eighth steal this season which ties him for fifth place with in the AL. … Jake Lamb is 5-for-11 with the A’s in just three games after being 5-for-43 with the Diamondbacks this season. … Marcus Semien will celebrate his 30th birthday with an off day on Thursday.