Oakland Athletics: Stellar Bullpen Helps A’s To Be Road Warriors

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Apr 19, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) right fielder Josh Reddick (22) and center fielder Billy Burns (1) celebrate their win against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Athletics defeated the Yankees 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) right fielder Josh Reddick (22) and center fielder Billy Burns (1) celebrate their win against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Athletics defeated the Yankees 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oakland Athletics Bullpen and Defense Are Keys to Win Vs. New York Yankees

There is no team in baseball that would look forward to trying to beat the Yankees on the road in extra innings. New York has too many big boppers who can, and have, hit walk off home runs. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez compose a Murderer’s Row that no one would want to face with the game on the line. However, the Oakland Athletics’ relievers worked their way through these sluggers twice in the late innings, and the big sluggers went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.

In 5.1 innings, the bullpen allowed one hit to Chase Headley, and Stephen Vogt quickly gunned down pinch runner Jacoby Ellsbury trying to steal second. The bullpen was pretty close to perfect, and it is good to have a perfect bullpen when matching up with the Yankees in extra innings.

The bullpen would never have gotten a chance to shine without the most-excellent pitching of Eric Surkamp. He was not perfect, but he pitched into the sixth inning. Surkamp gave up seven hits and three walks. Most importantly, he kept the ball in the park. For the fifth man in the rotation, going into the Bronx and facing a $200 million dollar Yankee team, Surkamp can take a lot of pride in the game he pitched on Tuesday night.

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Jed Lowrie went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI. Mark Canha got the big hit to drive Lowrie home with two outs in the top of the 11th. It was a terrific night for Lowrie, but there would not have been a chance for extra inning heroics without a clutch two-out RBI single by Marcus Semien in the top of the second. Lowrie also tied the game up in the top of the sixth when he drove in Danny Valencia, who had tripled. From the sixth through the 11th, it was a battle of bullpens, and the A’s came out on top.

This was a very good game. Both teams played well. Both teams have tremendous pitching, and both teams have hitters who are struggling. The defense was very, very good. Valencia actually made an excellent play, diving to his left to snag a ball. He got charged with a tough error when he threw high to second and pulled Lowrie off the bag. Valencia and Semien are working hard with Ron Washington, and they are getting better every day.

Next: Three Big Problems the A's Must Solve

Everyone will be focused on Canha’s clutch two-out hit in the top of the 11th, but I was also impressed by the way he fielded a hard shot right down the line off the bat of Teixeira in the bottom of the tenth. The A’s hitters are struggling just now, so the team will have to rely on strong pitching and defense. Once the bats get going, this could be a very formidable team indeed.

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