Oakland Athletics Win Their Most Complete Game
By Mark Sigmon
A Second Look: After Saturday night’s win, the Oakland Athletics are in first place in the American League for first time since April 18, 2015
The Oakland A’s used excellent pitching, stellar defense, clutch hitting and raw power to defeat the Seattle Mariners last night. Rich Hill started, and he showed flashes of brilliance. Billy Beane has taken some heat for signing Rich Hill. I was not ready to give up on Hill after his first start on Opening Night, and I’m not ready to declare him an ace after one good start. However, I am feeling a whole lot better about the A’s rotation.
Hill looked good against the entire Mariners’ lineup, but he was especially deadly to lefties. Hill began the game by striking out three of the first four batters he faced. Just when A’s fans began getting really excited, Chris Iannetta ripped a home run to deep left center. That turned out to be Hill’s only hiccup. It seemed as though Hill got stronger as the game went on. In the bottom of the sixth, he struck out the side. His last pitch, pitch No. 100, was a sharp breaking ball to get Iannetta swinging with two runners on. He ended up with 10 strikeouts though it must be said that the ump had a pretty generous strike zone. It was a very good night for Rich Hill. Hopefully there will be more good nights to come. Spring training in Arizona can be hard on curve ball pitchers like Hill.
Much like the old man in “Monte Python and the Holy Grail,” Coco Crisp proved that he’s not dead yet.
He led off the game with a single and stole second for his 300th career stolen base. Chris Coghlan got him to third, and Danny Valencia singled to bring him in. Crisp singled and stole second in the fifth and came around to score on Josh Reddick‘s long bomb to deep right. It was gratifying to see the Oakland Athletics add on to their lead with single runs in the sixth and eighth. All in all, the hitters had a solid game with Crisp, Reddick and Stephen Vogt leading the way. It looks like the left-handed power is coming on.
What a difference a year makes! The A’s got ahead 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. I was thinking, “Three runs will be plenty with this bullpen!” It is a good feeling to be eager to see a reliever come in. I suspect the A’s will have far fewer one run losses simply because they will be playing far fewer one run games. How many times did the A’s fall behind, rally to go ahead and then end up losing in a demoralizing fashion in 2015?
This is what I find fascinating about the bullpen this year. We seem to have two “A-Teams.” Last year when the Athletics were behind by a couple runs in the late innings, Bob Melvin would put in his “B-Team” and hope for the best. The best rarely came. Melvin had to save his “A-Team” just in case the A’s might get a lead in the next upcoming game.
Next: A's 2016 Preview: SP Eric Surkamp
This year it seems as though John Axford, Sean Doolittle, and Ryan Madson are one A-Team while Ryan Dull, Marc Rzepczynski and maybe Liam Hendriks or Fernando Rodriguez are No. 2 A-Team. I try to stay upbeat and positive, but sometimes last year when Melvin was bringing in Dan Otero or Fernando Abad, it felt as though we were conceding that game. This year, I get the feeling that whoever comes in from the bullpen is going to hold the opposition down. There will be ups and downs, but right now, the bullpen is sorting out very nicely.
Pitching, defense and timely hitting all added up to a sweet victory in the A’s most complete game of 2016. Let’s hope this will be the blueprint for the Oakland Athletics’ entire season.