On the warmest day of the year, the A’s stayed red hot, batting around the order against three different Angels pitchers for a six-run sixth inning and an 8-4 victory Wednesday afternoon.
Oakland (43-27) has won six straight after a series sweep against the Los Angeles Angels (33-34), are now a season-high 16 games over .500, and have the best record this month in the majors. The A’s found their groove in Oakland and look like a complete, dominant team who continue to find ways to win. Wednesday they did it playing small ball.
LHP Cole Irvin gave up three runs on five hits in the first and was one at-bat away from facing the entire Angels lineup. He owed a big thank you to his defense and tipped his cap to Mark Canha after a beautiful catch against the wall in left center, and to Tony Kemp, who made a nice stop on a 102-mph ground ball to end the inning down 3-0.
Irvin spoke about how great the defense is behind him when he takes the mound:
“We got an incredible defense and I trust them with everything. You can see that from the way I pitch but on top of that, it helps when you make good defensive plays and put up zeros and then the offense turns around when their bullpen came out …it was just a good team win. We pitched well, middle-late in the game and then we hit in the sixth and made some incredible defensively plays and this team never seizes to amaze me with what they can do defensively.”
David Fletcher walked on four straight balls to lead off the second but Irvin would thank his defense once again when a 5-4-3 double-play cleared the bases before Shohei Ohtani‘s second at-bat. The very next pitch, Ohtani (19) demolished the ball 435 feet into the right-field second level to put the Angels up 4-0.
“I talk often talk about momentum swings and it wasn’t a great feeling for us to be down that big, early on. and It’s a hot day and you got to persevere and you got to continue to grind. But I think when he [Laureano] made the catch and then came in and hit a home run, all of a sudden we, we felt like a different team.”
Angels starter Griffin Canning didn’t give the A’s an opportunity to get any sort of rally going. Laureano was back in center field for the first time since May 28 and quickly made an impact. He robbed Justin Upton of a home run in straight-center to end the third inning. Irvin’s first 1-2-3 inning came in the fourth and he lifted his fist up to Laureano as he walked off the mound down 4-0.
Laureano stepped up to the plate in the same inning he robbed his fifth home run of the season and hit a solo home run (12) to left to make it 4-1. Canning finally allowed some hope for Oakland in the fifth when Kemp walked and Aramis Garcia singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Canha grounded into a double-play attempt but reached first safely and Kemp scored on the play to make it 4-2.
Irvin on Laureano, from the play in the field to his blast at the plate:
“I feel like he does that just about every time he does rob a catch. It is pretty impressive what he does and he is able to time it up to catch it and when you make a good play you are bound to have a good hit after it so I think he is just such a good player, we are lucky to have him back in the lineup already and just good to have him back.”
Irvin allowed two hits in the sixth and was relieved after 5-2/3 innings. Burch Smith (W, 1-0, 5.03 ERA) struck out Justin Upton with runners on the corners to escape the sixth scoreless. Irvin struck out two batters and walked two. He allowed four runs on nine hits, one being a homer in just 85 pitches but was relieved before top of the order made their fourth plate appearance off him.
Irvin said he didn’t have his best stuff but was happy to go deep:
“Today is one of those days where I just didn’t have everything… I had to battle and despite getting weak contact, they just found holes in that first inning and I didn’t let it get to me. It’s baseball. It is too early to give up on that outing and there was a lot of game left. I think it was only like 19 or 20 pitches after that first so I didn’t throw a hole lot. They just ambushed me and they did a good job doing it. I was battling with myself today just trying to execute pitches and stuff felt good overall but it was just one of those days where I had my ‘C’ game and I had to battle.”
Tony Watson (L, 2-3, 6.00 ERA) took the mound in the sixth with his team up 4-2 and completely lost the game for his team. Everyone who faced Watson singled and if they didn’t, they were intentionally walked.
Matt Olson, Jed Lowrie, Matt Chapman all singled up the middle to get the crowd going. Chapman’s single scored Olson from second which made it 4-3. Chad Pinder hit a line drive down the left field line to tie the game 4-4. The Angels intentionally walked Elvis Andrus to load the bases with no outs and Kemp singled to make it 5-4. Watson was relieved by Steve Cishek whose first pitch was wild to make it 6-4.
Irvin touched on how great the offense has been all season:
“They are just doing such a great job. They are disciplined in their at-bats and you know you are always going to be in the game and as long as you are putting up zeros as a starter and as a reliever, they are going to do their part and score some runs.”
Cishek struck out Garcia for the first out but Canha hit into a fielder’s choice and Fletcher’s throw home was not in time to make it 7-4. Laureano lined out to center for the second out and Cishek was relieved by Jose Suarez. Olson singled for the second time in the inning on a line drive to left to make it 8-4 before Suarez put an end to the six-run sixth inning. Suarez finished the game on the mound and kept the game at 8-4 headed into the ninth.
Smith ended up getting the win and Sergio Romo and Lou Trivino each threw 1-2-3 innings. The A’s bullpen kept the A’s ahead after the sixth until the final out of the ballgame. Irvin touched on how thankful he is:
“The bullpen needed a little bit longer outing out of me and I had to dig deep and get through that. Burch [Smith] coming in and saving my butt there in that sixth inning was incredible. [Sergio] Romo has been pitching extremely well lately… I couldn’t be happier for a guy who has figured some things out, it’s awesome every time he comes in, he’s ready to put up a zero. He has some kind of chip on his shoulder or I don’t know what it is but he is pitching well and then obviously Lou [Trivino] has just been great for us all year.”
James Kaprielian (3-1, 2.51 ERA) will make his first start at Yankee Stadium Friday. His appearance may remind the organization that drafted him in the first round of 2015 what they are missing. The Yankees have yet to announce their starter for Friday night’s 4:05 p.m. game. The A’sd have an off day on Thursday, their ninth of the season. They are currently the only undefeated team after off days, with eight wins.
Lou Trivino came out for the ninth and fist pumped on the mound after a perfect ninth to end the game. … Ramon Laureano was reinstated from injured list and robbed a homer, then hit one of his own.