Chris Bassitt pitched his first major league complete game Thursday night, and he did it in shutout fashion, allowing just two hits and striking out nine as the A’s rolled past the Los Angeles Angels 5-0.
Oakland (30-22) dominated in a batted-around sixth inning to score five runs, all they needed with Bassitt on the mound. Shohei Ohtani was scratched from Thursday’s start due to transportation issues. Traffic prevented the standout pitcher from getting to the Coliseum on time, and he had to take BART instead. He is now scheduled to start Friday.
Bassitt tried very hard to hold back tears answering the first couple questions and then he finally let his true feelings out:
“I am not trying to be weird but gosh dang. I am just trying to hold back tears right now, that’s honest. [Deep breath] There are so many people in this organization that have stuck by my side through so much crap and I’m just so grateful. Honestly. I am grateful.”
He apologized for letting it out but should be thanked instead. He continued with what Thursday night meant for him, an important chapter in his career that he will never forget:
“I mean there are so many people that pushed me when I was going through so much crap. My wife and obviously I have a little girl but dang man. Yeah, BoMel, Shulmen, everyone. Nick to everyone. As dumb as it is, the clubbies. Like everyone just pushed me when they knew I was struggling through so much stuff. I am grateful. I’m grateful to be here.”
Patrick Sandoval found out he was starting just 90 minutes before the game. He threw two scoreless inning before loading the bases in the third with one out, but escaped the inning scoreless and did so through five innings. He allowed five hits, struck out four batters and walked a pair before he was relieved by Aaron Slegers who took the rubber for the sixth, when the A’s piled on five runs and batted around the order.
Matt Olson beat the shift with a hard grounder down the third base line for a standing double to get the five-run rally started. Jed Lowrie walked on four straight pitches, then Matt Chapman grounded to David Fletcher at shortstop, who made a throwing error trying to get Olson out of the force, but forced a run instead. The ball landed near the A’s dugout and Olson got to hang out with his teammates and watch four more runs score after the play.
Sean Murphy followed with a blooper that landed in shallow center to drive in two runs to make it 3-0. Chapman was literally one step behind Lowrie the entire time he rounded third and had to hold back from passing the 37-year-old second baseman. They both reached safely, no slides needed. and Slegers’ night came to an end.
Seth Brown pinch-hit for Stephen Piscotty who was 2-for-2 Thursday. Bob Melvin must have wanted Brown to face righty reliever Slegers because as soon as Brown stepped up to the plate, an Angels pitching change sent LHP Alex Claudio to the mound with Murphy on first and one out. Claudio walked Brown to put two on with one out. Elvis Andrus on a full count hit a grounder that got through the right side to score Murphy for a 4-0 lead. Top of the order Mark Canha hit a line drive to right field to load the bases, ending Claudio’s night and leaving it to Junior Guerra to get the final two outs.
Guerra entered the inning with the bases loaded and one out. Tony Kemp pinch hit for Chad Pinder, who went 0-for-2 with a walk Thursday night. Kemp was the ninth at bat of the inning and sacrificed home the fifth run when Brown tagged from third and the A’s led 5-0. Ramon Laureano came up for the second time in the inning after he struck out for the first out, grounding out to put an end the five-run inning. The A’s scored five runs on five hits, two walks and an error leaving two men stranded. Guerra finished the game without allowing another run.
Chris Bassitt was lights out and only allowed a single to Lagares in the second inning when he grounded a ball to Chapman who tried to barehand it but couldn’t field the weirdly-hit ball. Bassitt walked Ohtani on a full count in the fourth and gave up a double to Justin Upton in the ninth but was absolutely solid all night. He has been the A’s unnamed ace for a couple years now but tonight proved he is the man you want on the mound.
Bassitt said his confidence is growing and how he attacks hitters, adding pitches and working with pitching coach Scott Emerson over the years allowed him to accomplish what he accomplished.
Bob Melvin said Bassitt deserved tonight and touched on his confidence. Melvin was going to hold him at 15 and his last hitter for Melvin’s call ended up being the final out of the ballgame. A milestone for Bassitt. Melvin said:
“He has just been pitching with a lot of confidence and he is using all his pitches, he’s getting ahead in counts. It is soft contact there is not a lot of hard contact off of him… he is pitching with a lot of confidence right now. This is probably the best stretch of his career.”