A sloppy fifth inning was all the Angels needed to keep the A’s from clinching a series win Saturday afternoon, shutting out Oakland 4-0 and delivering the A’s a taste of what the Angels experienced Friday night.
Bob Melvin will have to wait another night before he wins game No. 799 to eclipse Tony LaRussa and become the A’s winningest manager in their Oakland history.
The A’s bullpen didn’t allow a run, and not a single run on the scoreboard was earned. The Angels (23-29) outhit the A’s (31-23) 9-3, the lone A’s error cost the team one of the four runs. It was an ugly day in Oakland for the 9,433 in attendance, weather-wise, and on the field.
Alex Cobb (W, 3-2, 3.78 ERA) looked like Friday night’s Chris Bassitt. He allowed just three Oakland hits, all singles and two of them to DH Mitch Moreland. Tony Kemp had the other single and Matt Chapman and Elvis Andrus both drew walks. Other than that, Cobb was lights out, pitching with a four-run cushion when he took the mound in the fifth. He pitched seven scoreless innings Saturday and struck out eight batters in 101 pitches.
Melvin spoke about what Cobb was able to do so well and why his team was unable to get anything started:
“He just kept us off balance. He has a really good split that he throws in any count. He has a good sinker, he has a high ground ball rate and throws just enough curve balls in the early counts for strikes and just had us off balance the entire game.”
Frankie Montas (L, 5-5, 4.45 ERA) kept the Angels scoreless through four innings but was one hitter away from a batted-around order in the fifth. The Angels scored four runs — none earned — all they would need.
Rookie Jose Rojas walked on a full count to lead off and advanced to second on the first wild pitch of the inning. Anthony Bemboom hit a line drive to right field and Seth Brown quickly threw home to hold the runners on the corners with one out.
David Fletcher, who drove in the Angels first and only run last night, did it again Saturday. He bunted to the right side and Matt Olson quickly threw the ball home. Rojas was going to be out by five feet and knew it, but as he turned back to third, catcher Aramís García bobbled the ball and picked up his first error of the season to allow the Angels first run of the game. It only got worse.
Melvin believed Montas pitched well and the error play at home may have been a game changer:
“I thought he pitched good. Just that one inning, I don’t think any of them were earned. If we execute a play, Olson makes a great play on the safety (squeeze) then might look a little bit different but it just got out of hand a little bit after that but again he is one walk, seven strikeouts. Pitched probably better than he deserved but when you don’t score any runs it really doesn’t matter.”
But Melvin, the former catcher, defended his back up catcher on the play:
“Olson makes a great play, we had a play for that, he came in and got it beautifully, if we executed it at home he was out so I think he might of even stopped and might have tried to get back into a run down maybe but we just didn’t execute and sometimes as a catcher you take your eye off the ball a little bit because you wanna know where the runner is and you try to make a tag and that is probably what happened.”
DH Shohei Ohtani stepped up to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. The first pitch Montas threw to Ohtani was the second wild pitch of the inning to advance runners into scoring position before Ohtani hit a line drive to clear the bases. The Angels led 3-0 and Ohtani stole second to put himself in scoring position, and he scored when Anthony Rendon singled to right which made it 4-0.
Montas finally got out of the inning and came back out for the sixth. He struck out the first two batters but was relieved after a two-out double by Kean Wong. Montas lasted 5-2/3 innings where he allowed six hits, one walk and threw three wild pitches in his 98 total. He exited the mound with seven strikeouts.
Montas said he felt his best and let one bad inning get the best of him. He said he couldn’t get mad at his teammates because they are all trying their best:
“I just got caught up in the moment and as a pitcher you need to keep your head straight and I kinda just got a little mad and I shouldn’t get mad at my teammates for that cause they are out there trying to make outs for me. They did a hell of a job today and nothing but good thoughts about my teammates man.”
Montas believed he made good pitches to Ohtani and Rendon they are just good hitters and the back-to-back singles put the A’s out of the game. He just blamed the one bad inning:
“To be honest this is the best I feel in general. I feel like I was able to go out there and throw all my pitches for strikes, especially my splitter and my fastball. Like I said, it was just one inning and got caught up in the moment and kinda messed up my whole game.”
Cam Bedrosian struck out Bemboom to end the inning, then threw a perfect seventh. Deolis Guerra came out for the eighth and kept the Angels scoreless, allowing only a walk. Guerra put a runner on in the ninth with one out before he was relieved by Sergio Romo for the final two outs in the ninth. Romo took the mound and had to face the Angels top of the order and struck out the first batter he faced, Upton on a full-count for the second out and Ohtani fouled out to end the inning.
Cobb was finally relieved after 101 pitches and a four-run lead. LHP Tony Watson took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and the first batter he faced was Stephen Piscotty who pinch hit for Moreland who had two of the A’s three hits the entire game. Piscotty faced the lefty and flew out to center to lead off the eighth and the next two batters flew out to the outfield as well.
Raisel Iglesias went out for the bottom of the ninth and hoped to pick up his ninth save of the season and that is exactly what he did in a clean and perfect ninth.
Two lefties will take the rubber Sunday afternoon for the final game of the four game series. LHP Cole Irvin (3-6, 3.92) and LHP Jose Quintana (0-3, 7.92) are set to start at 1:07 p.m. The Oakland A’s lead the season series 4-2 after Saturday’s game.
Jesús Luzardo will be activated on Sunday and will be available out of the bullpen… Ramon Laureano is day-to-day with a groin injury and was out of the lineup.