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Irvin outshines Ohtani, Laureano bomb lifts A’s over Angels

Cole Irvin outdueled Shohei Ohtani and a late three-run homer from Ramón Laureano supplied the offense in the A’s 4-1 win over the Angels Monday night.

Both starters kept the game scoreless but when Ohtani exited the mound for the seventh, the A’s (54-42) pounced on the lead when Laureano hit a 3-run homer (13). Steve Cishek (L, 0-1, 3.48 ERA) couldn’t record a single out for the Angels (46-47) in the inning and his night came to an end after he walked the first two batters he faced then gave up the Laureano homer. A Matt Olson (23) solo blast to lead off the eighth topped off the Oakland scoring.

Ohtani has great numbers on the mound, and leads his team offensively with a .686 slugging percentage, 34 homers and 74 RBI. The A’s game plan was to make Ohtani work and get his pitch count up early and that is exactly what they did. Ohtani finished his night on the mound after 96 pitches and only allowed three hits; doubles from Mark Canha and Mitch Moreland and a Matt Olson singled. Ohtani struck out eight batters, walking only Tony Kemp while keeping the A’s scoreless.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Cishek was the complete opposite of Ohtani. He walked the first two batters he faced — Moreland and Matt Chapman — to put two on with no outs. Seth Brown pinch-ran for Moreland on second then Laureano rounded the bases to put the A’s up 3-0. LHP Tony Watson replaced Cishek, keeping the game at 3-0 but allowing Kemp to reach on a bunt.

Laureano is a man of few words, but he shared after the game:

“Just sit back and hit things, that is part of baseball … just work on the things I need to work on … It is still a work in progress, still have to keep going and yeah just continue to work and not be satisfied with anything, just continue to battle.”

Melvin knew the team had to get to Ohtani early and was proud they did:

“Ohtani got off to a good start and pitched great and we wore him out of the game and beat the relievers… You don’t have to necessarily beat him, but Cole matched him. Had big outs when he needed to, double-play balls. [Irvin] Was great and efficient again, his pitch count was so good that we could pitch him deep in the game.”

Irvin (W, 7-8, 3.42 ERA) was solid Monday. The only time the Angels came close to scoring was in the third. David Fletcher hit a two out single and tried to score from first with two outs when Ohtani doubled to center. Fletcher was tagged out at home on a 6-4-2 relay home from Laureano to Elvis Andrus and Sean Murphy’s tag was just in time to keep the Angels scoreless.

Irvin felt good after the All-Star break and spoke highly about his team’s defense, specifically the Laureano play, but there were a lot of double plays that helped him:

“He got a good pitch to hit and he absolutely tattooed it and I didn’t even see it go by my head. He absolutely crushed it. But Ramón [Laureano] is a good outfielder and read the play, cut it off the wall, got it in quick and Elvis has a great arm and rifled it into Sean and fired me up… it was a clean play all the way through so it fired me up and kept me going. Definitely a lot of adrenaline after that out, we needed that … it helped with the momentum and it didn’t happen right away but we stayed with it and stayed strong together and good pitching and defense wins a lot of games and we had a lot of good defense today.”

Irvin took the mound to start the eighth at just 78 pitches, but a leadoff single to Adam Eaton put an end to his fantastic night. Lou Trivino (S, 15) relieved Irvin who threw seven scoreless, allowing seven hits and walking one. Irvin only struck out two batters but the A’s defense was turning double plays and had Irvin’s back all night. Unfortunately for Ohtani, his bullpen didn’t have his back.

LHP Alex Claudio only threw three pitches to open the eighth before Olson crushed a bomb (24) to right to make it 4-0 Oakland to lead off the eighth. Junior Guerra relieved Claudio and kept the game at 4-0.

Trivino kept Irvin’s runner on first when he received him in the eighth, then retired the next three batters, including David Fletcher who was 2-for-2 with a walk — and Ohtani.

Trivino came back out for the ninth looking for a six out save, but a walk and double put the Angels on the board in the final inning.

In his first at bat off Irvin in the second inning, Brandon Marsh picked up his first major league hit before getting two more Monday night. Marsh went 0-for-4 against Seattle in his MLB debut Sunday, but he was 3-for-4 in his second Monday and drove in the Angels only run in the ninth to make it 4-1.  Taylor Ward hit a routine grounder to Andrus who made an error bobbling the ball with two outs to put runners on the corners and the tying runner at the plate. Eaton fouled out to Chapman who sprinted into foul territory toward the A’s bullpen, banging right into it to make the catch and end the game.

Here is how the game ended just to show how great the defense was all around, all the way through despite and Andrus error:

Up Next

James Kaprielian (4-3, 2.90 ERA) faces LHP Jose Suarez (4-2, 2.29 ERA) in the final game Tuesday of the short two-game series. The A’s lead the season series 8-3 and look to sweep the Angels for the second time this season.

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