After three easy innings, Chris Bassitt ran into trouble in the fourth. That inning may have set a tone for the season.
The 2020 season is an important one for Chris Bassitt moving forward. It is a year that could determine his future with the Oakland A’s, whether he is a part of the rotation going forward, or if he will settle in as a long reliever. His first start of the season was certainly going to garner attention.
For the first three innings, Bassitt was even more than anyone could have hoped for. As he was filling in for Jesus Luzardo, he did a reasonable impersonation in the stat line, striking out five batters while allowing just two hits and a walk over three innings. He was in complete control, shutting down the Angels.
Then came the fourth inning. Justin Upton singled, and moved to third on Tommy LaStella’s double to deep right center. Albert Pujols followed with a little ground ball, where Matt Chapman made a brilliant backhand play and fired home to gun down Upton. Jason Castro singled to right to load the bases, giving the Angels a prime scoring threat.
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But Bassitt was not ready to give in. He threw Andrelton Simmons a first pitch changeup, which completely fooled the Angels’ shortstop. Reaching for the ball, he hit a one hopper to the mound, with Bassitt making a leaping grab. He then started a 1-2-3 double play, ending the inning, and subsequently, his outing.
In reality, those are just two plays amongst many that will be made this season. But these are the types of plays that the A’s make. They have built the type of defense that could theoretically make a major difference in a series, particularly in the postseason.
For a pitcher like Bassitt, that type of inning can set a tone for the season. He was able to get out of a difficult situation unscathed, the type of inning that can build the confidence of any pitcher, regardless of their experience. With Bassitt looking to solidify a role beyond this season, that type of inning can make a difference.
Chris Bassitt helped himself out of a major jam in the fourth inning. That inning may go a long way towards his building off of a solid 2019 and establishing himself as a major league starter.