Two-thirds of this game was a walk-in-the-park for Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics. Their solid defense, timely hitting and quality pitches in critical situations set this club up for their 31st win of the 2015 season. After 7 1/3 innings of one-run baseball and striking out six, Kazmir surrendered just six hits and three walks to the opposition. However, by the top of the eighth, the pressure was ultimately on A’s closer Tyler Clippard. When the game concluded on a sunny afternoon at the O.Co Coliseum, it was the A’s that squeaked out a one-run win in front of the 29,137 fans in attendance.
For the first two innings of the ballgame, Angels starter Garrett Richards and Kazmir posted zeros on the scoreboard. That is until Sam Fuld lined a sharp double past Albert Pujols in the bottom of the third inning. Fuld set the stage for Billy “The Igniter, who did in fact Start the Fire” Burns, who slapped a first-pitch fastball to left field, allowing Fuld to score easily from second. Through the middle innings, the A’s and Halos had runners on-base, but key double plays, timely putouts and strikeouts kept the offenses quiet until Richards took the mound in the bottom of the sixth, and the A’s put on a hitting clinic for the Oakland faithful.
With 83 pitches to begin the frame, Stephen Vogt lined an 0-2 pitch from Richards to left field, which was followed by a smoked single up the middle by Ben Zobrist — finding its way into center-field. Vogt forced his way to third base, which put runners on the corners before Josh Reddick lined out to second baseman Johnny Giavotella. The tide turned for the Athletics as Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis recorded back-to-back singles to left field that allowed Vogt and Zobrist to score, increasing Oakland’s lead to 3-0 after six.
Things were silent until the eighth inning when Clippard relieved Kazmir with one out in the top of the eighth. With Giavotella on first and one-away, Pujols launched a 3-2 fastball into the left-field bleachers; coincidentally cutting the deficit by a score of 3-2. After tossing 28 pitches in last night’s contest, Clippard struck out Carlos Perez to begin the ninth. However, a line-drive miscue from first baseman Ike Davis allowed pinch-hitter Matt Joyce to reach first. By a stroke of luck, Efren Navarro struck out looking. Giavotella put a charge behind a 1-0 pitch from Clippard that had left-fielder Fuld breaking immediately for the warning track. With a sense disbelief on Clippard’s face, a one-run loss was all but certain for the Athletics, who have been through this countless times before. Instead, the script was flipped and Fuld — at the very edge of the warning track — stuck his glove up and made the catch putting a storybook ending on this Father’s Day.
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- Overall Marcus Semien‘s performance in the field was stellar. Making all of the routine plays and, most importantly, taking part in several double plays in the fifth and sixth innings. It is safe to say that his defense is coming around, and, even though he’s cooled down offensively, he’s becoming the all-around solid shortstop Billy Beane envisioned.
- Manager Bob Melvin‘s decision to allow Clippard to begin the ninth inning was a real head-scratcher. After tossing 1 1/3 frames last night on 28 pitches, it appeared that he was leaving everything up in the zone. Mike Trout just missed a two-run homer in eighth. Had he connected, the Angels would have had back-to-back shots — along with a respectable 5-2 lead.
- Burns extended his hitting streak to 12 games after hitting an opposite-field single to left field in the third inning, which subsequently scored Oakland’s first run in the third.
- Angels starter Jered Weaver was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left-hip inflammation. You’d have to think something was up after his start last night against the A’s.
- The A’s have a .306 batting average with 11 runs scored, seven doubles and two homers in this series. Burns alone went 5-for-10 with two runs, a walk and a stolen base heading into Sunday’s contest.
The A’s are off on Monday however Jesse Chavez (3-6, 2.52 ERA) will take the hill in the series opener against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. They will be opposed by rookie pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-1, 0.90) at 5:05 PM PT.