Whatever the Oakland Athletics (22-62) are doing when getting ready for a series opener they should do for the games they play following the first game against each of the rivals they face.
That's because the A's seemingly don't know how to lose a series opener, the latest victory coming against the visiting Chicago White Sox (36-48) after they defeated them 7-4 on Friday to claim their third-consecutive victim in an opening game of a series.
The game kicked off with Luis Medina (2-7) on the mound for the Athletics and Tyler Banks (0-3) pitching for the White Sox. That's to say, this wasn't even remotely close to an ace battle, but you have to make the most of what the A's offer these days...
And what they are offering, first of all, is a delightful rookie outfielder in Esteury Ruiz and his masterful 41 stolen bases through the first 84 games of the season. Peep.
Getting back to what matters the most today, Medina got his second win of the season thanks to a solid yet crazy outing pitching through five full innings before giving way to a hanful of A's relievers. Things started bad for Medina has the White Sox took an early 1-0 lead, but the rookie limited the rest of the batters he faced to just four hits and no more runs.
Eloy Jimenez followed Andrew Benintendi's double with a single to score his teammate in the top of the 1st inning, but Medina retired Gavin Sheets having allowed one more single and a walk and that was it for Chicago when it came to bulking up the score as they didn't score any more runs until the eighth frame.
Oakland exploded in the 2nd inning thanks to contributions from the usual suspects. JJ Bleday got things going with a walk, Aledmys Diaz doubled, Langeliers singled and scored Bleday, Jace Peterson sacrificed himself on a flyout that brought Diaz home, and then Tony Kemp worked his magic with a lightning-quick triple and rush through the basepaths. Esty would then hit a sac fly to make Tony's effort count and make it 4-1 A's.
Uneventful baseball followed until Carlos Perez, playing in front of his younger brother and member of the White Sox Carlos Perez (yikes), sent a ball flying past the Coliseum fences and into the bleacers to bag his fifth homer of the season.
With nearly half a game to go, though, this was far from over for an Athletics team that has struggled mightily to keep opponents at bay in the final innings of their matchups daily matchups across the league.
Recalled-Rico Garcia pitched a one-hit inning in relief of Media while throwing 17 pitches, nine of those called for strikes. Shintaro Fujinami followed with a no-hit inning. Sam Moll retired a couple of batters though he put the lead in peril allowing two runs on four hits and strulling a bit out there on the field.
Mark Kotsay decided to remove Moll with two men out in the top of the 8th inning, bringing closer Trevor May in to keep Chicago from shrinking the distance even more than they had already done, and the score at a dangerously close 5-3 in favor of the A's. May dealt with Tim Anderson in four pitches, and the game went into the ninth frame with the Athletics still two runs up.
Oakland had some juice in them and got to pad the distance a bit with two more runs in the bottom of the eight, most probably relaxing May a bit entering the final half-inning of the matchup. May, of course, be delivered. Yes, Luis Robert Jr. tagged him hard with a homer to left field, but that was it for the day as May went on to get his fifth save of the year.
The A's and the White Sox meet again on Saturday with your superheroes looking to win two consecutive games for the first time since the Reverse Boycott event. Oakland is scheduled to deploy left-handed pitcher Kyle Muller (1-4, 8.04 ERA) against Chicago's superstar and AL Cy Young Award runner-up Dylan Cease (3-3, 4.04).