In what was probably their ugliest baseball all season, Oakland was destroyed 14-2 Sunday by the Giants, who in a single game managed to match the A’s output in the three-game series — after being shut out in the first two.
The San Francisco (26-26) win buoys their own postseason chances while avoiding a sweep and preventing Oakland from clinching the AL West. Absolutely nothing went well for the A’s (33-20), the game just kept slipping farther and farther away each inning. A Brandon Crawford grand slam in the sixth put an end to LHP Mike Minor‘s six-run day.
Minor (L, 1-6, 5.92 ERA) retired the first seven Giants batters before he walked rookie right fielder Luis Alexander Basabe, who stole his second stolen base as a big leaguer since his Aug. 27 debut. Down 1-2 in the count, Chadwick Tromp hit a two-run bomb to left for a homer right after. The A’s snapped their 26-1/3 inning scoreless with Tromp’s at-bat and the Giants lead for the first time in the series, 2-0 in the third inning of the third game.
Bob Melvin spoke about Minor’s performance and wasn’t unpleased with what he saw:
“No, just two balls that cut in the middle of the plate that they put two good swings on. Other than that, was pretty good and then walked a couple of guys to where I had to go get him, his pitch count got a little high too at that point in the game but really just two centered balls that left the yard, sometimes thats the tale.”
Brandon Belt led off the fourth inning with a base hit on a ball hit on the lower end of the barrel that dropped into shallow center. Darin Ruf followed on an 0-2 count and demolished the ball 18 feet over the 400-foot sign in straightaway center to double the Giants lead to 4-0.
In the sixth, Minor served up back-to-back walks to Belt and Ruf before Minor was relieved. Minor finished the day with 89 pitches, six runs, two homers, four hits, three walks and eight strikeouts in five innings.
Minor said he wasn’t happy with his slider today:
“Yeah, slider was the worst pitch today. Gave up a lot of hard contact with it. To Ruf, the 0-2 count, the at bat before that, he fouled off a couple off his feet, i thought maybe that was the right pitch but poorly executed, you could tell he was looking for it, trying to stay inside the ball and hit it to center.”
J.B Wendelken came in with runners on first and second and no outs in the sixth hoping to keep the A’s down 4-0 but completed the inning with the score doubled. Wendelken had yet to allow a run in his 22 innings pitched this season and was able to strike out his first batter, Evan Longoria, but there was more damage to come. Mauricio Dubón hit a fly ball to short center, perfectly placed and dropped to load the bases.
Crawford swung at the first pitch from Wendelken, a 92-mph sinker, clearing the bases with a grand slam crushed to right center to make it 8-0. Two runs were charged to Wendelken — his first allowed all season — and he finally recorded an ERA in 2020 at 1.59.
Melvin explained that the bullpen may not be used to coming into games being down, and they are used to pitching in games where every pitch counts:
“It is a game when you are down, you have to throw strikes, it is a little bit different. They are used to coming into games where it is close and every pitch matters. In [Jordan] Weems’ case he got a little bit wild which is unlike him, [Lou Trevino’s] case he gets a couple outs and then doesn’t have much success after that. It is a little different view of it when you are down in a game you have to come in and throw strikes.”
Well, the bullpen better get used to pitching in situations like this when they get to postseason.
Giants LHP Tyler Anderson (W, 3-3, 4.53 ERA) gave up back-to-back base hits in the sixth to Marcus Semien and Mark Canha. He was able to record two outs before he walked Khris Davis to load the bases and then Jake Lamb does what he does best, got on base with a hard line drive to right to make it 8-2 with runners on the corners and two outs.
Anderson (5-2/3 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 3 BB) was relieved by Shaun Anderson after 103 pitches, who was able to force a Laureano ground out to end the A’s two-run inning.
Canha on Anderson’s performance, and how he held the A’s to five hits:
“He really wasn’t making a lot of bad pitches. He was making good pitches, locating, not making a whole lot of mistakes.”
Jordan Weems pitched the seventh and loaded the bases on a leadoff single from Austin Slater and back-to-back walks. Weems struck out Longoria for the second out, but his third walk of the inning to Dubón made it 9-2. Crawford, who already had a grand slam in the prior inning, stepped up with the bases loaded, going down 0-2 in the count before battling to a full count before striking out to end the inning.
Canha spoke about how the team was ready for today just like they are every game, but they looked the complete opposite:
“I think today, we came out today and we came out like we always do. We expect to win and expect it is just going to be another day where we come out and play well and take advantage of opportunity moments and it just happens so we didn’t do that today. I don’t think anything changes, we aren’t putting pressure on ourselves. We are going to win every game at this point we are just kinda approaching them all the same way I think.”
Trivino came in for the eighth and struck out the first two batters before he walked Slater and gave up a single to center to former A’s 2012 No. 1 draft pick Daniel Robertson. A passed ball from Sean Murphy advanced Robertson to scoring position. Trivino walked Belt to load the bases for the third inning in a row before Ruf kept the rally going with a soft blooper to center to bring in two runs for an 11-2 game and give him 4 RBI on Sunday. Longoria hit a ball deep to the warning track in right center but Laureano was able to make the catch to end the inning.
T.J McFarland was the fourth A’s reliever on Sunday, and things only got uglier when he entered in the ninth.
A foul ball that Olson likely would have gotten to but eluded his replacement Vimael Machin gave life to Dubon in his leadoff at-bat. Dubon grounded to Lamb, who made a Chapman-looking play at third and, had Olson been at first, it probably would have been an out. But without the same stretch as the gold glove first baseman, Machin couldn’t get the out and and Dubon was safe on the play. Crawford followed with a line drive to right for a standing double to put runners in scoring position with no outs. Basabe kept it going with a shallow popup that dropped in right to make it 12-2 for Basabe’s first career RBI. Singles from Tromp, Slater and Robertson would make it 14-2.
The A’s just didn’t show up Sunday, and the Houston Astros had an eighth inning comeback to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2. So the A’s will have to wait for a Houston loss, or win against the Dodgers starting Tuesday (or in Seattle over the weekend) to earn their title.
The A’s will officially enter the “bubble” after Sunday’s game. Their off day Monday will be spent in a hotel in Los Angeles before a three-game series against the Dodgers. Frankie Montas (3-4, 5.86 ERA) is expected to pitch either game one or two of the series, but the A’s have yet to announce who will start Tuesday.