The A’s are showing that they still have their pride, if not nothing close to a winning record.
Oakland beat the Orioles Tuesday evening 5-0, starter Chris Bassitt (W, 1-4, 2.64 ERA) got his first win of the year, and Eric Sogard was intentionally walked.
Then shortstop Marcus Semien hit a homer to deep left on an 0-1 breaking pitch left a little high in the zone, scoring Sogard and Brett Lawrie.
No, reader, you are not high, nobody roofied your tasty beverage. This actually happened.
“Both of us were a little surprised. He didn’t even realize he was getting walked until he looked up behind him. And I didn’t realize it until I looked up also.”
The intentional walk, the rarest of moments — Sogard has drawn only two in his career — was followed by something Semien has been working on for some time.
The young infielder has hit a lot of balls very hard, but often too high, resulting in pop outs that could possibly be home runs if not for the particularly cavernous Oakland Coliseum.
Semien and A’s manager Bob Melvin suggested that the Orioles were playing the numbers, Roe carrying a .272 OPS differential that certainly favors matchups against right handed hitters.
Semien told SFBay in June he’d been trying to hit more line drives, one of many things he’s been working on to improve his game. It was his defense in the early goings that needed work.
The fact that Orioles relief pitcher Chaz Roe decided to walk a career .238 hitter to face Oakland’s 24-year-old shortstop signals how much of a slump Semien has fallen into.
Semien, though, hit his second home run in four games, and may be heading for the brighter side of his streaky tendencies.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
It wasn’t like Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez (L, 9-8, 4.32 ERA) had much run support in the first place. The Orioles got seven runners aboard, and failed to get any beyond second base.
Semien’s home run came in the sixth as well, shortly after Gonzalez was yanked.
And Chris Bassitt is thankful.
He’d received only five total runs in his five prior starts this year, even though he’s pitched exceptionally well. In those five starts, he lasted five or more innings apeice, and allowed 10 runs.
Bassitt has been on a role since being brought to the big club on June 25, and has finally been rewarded for his efforts.
“He’s a really intense kid out there. And since he’s been in the rotation, you see every time he goes out there that he’s more and more confident.”
Melvin credits an increased velocity with two strikes for Bassitt’s career high seven punchouts, and a good mix of pitches for the early road to getting there.
Bassitt, though, credits Stephen Vogt for calming him down, the young pitcher said he was getting ahead of himself early in the game:
“I was really fast tonight, and he just knew how to slow me down. … He might not of had a hit tonight, but he for sure won us the game.”
Bassitt didn’t look rushed. He looked as in control as any good pitcher, so it came as a shock to all who heard him speak after the game. He continued:
“I knew that I hadn’t won yet. I was trying to do the best that I possibly could and I came out of the gates way too fast. The whole entire game I was way too fast.”
Bassitt has been everything he could be for the A’s in his five starts this season, but has also been his toughest critic. And by that, Bassitt hardly had anything positive to say about himself after dominating a pretty dangerous lineup, getting his first A’s win, and giving pause to some who doubt Oakland’s potential for the 2016 season.
“I don’t know if I had a clean inning tonight. With the walks, hits and strikeouts, I just pitched, I guess.”
He did have a clean inning on the night, the sixth inning, and he certainly went out and pitched.
Oakland is now 48-60, Baltimore 54-52, and the two square off once more Wednesday afternoon to finish the set. Kendall Graveman will pitch for Oakland and Wei-Yin Chen for Baltimore.