Inside Pitch: A’s fall just shy of Bay Bridge sweep
Tacking 13 more runs on to their recent hot streak, the A’s (35-44) fell just short of the first ever regular season series sweep of the Bay Bridge Series. Going 5-for-7 (.714) with runners in scoring position, and adding four home runs, the offense led the way in a two-game split, coming on the heels of a 2-0 visit to “The City.”
Having now scored the all-important fourth run in eight straight, it took the visiting Giants (50-31) and ace Madison Bumgarner (9-4, 2.20 ERA) pummeling rookie starter Dillon Overton (1-1, 11.42 ERA) to halt history.
Fastball: No shortage of runs
After piling on 21 runs on the other side of the Bay, the A’s brought the onslaught to “The Town,” lighting the scoreboard another 13 times. Creating just seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, the “Swingin’ A’s” made the most out of minimal opportunity, relying on the long ball to produce seven tallies.
Since breathing in the smoggy air of Anaheim, Oakland has scored 63 runs (7.9 per game). Over the past week the A’s are leading the major leagues in runs (59), tied for the lead in total bases (147) and tied for third in home runs (14) — hitting one or more in each of the past nine games.
Changeup: Yonder Alosno exercises his Giant demons
Alonso (.250/.308/.342 2016 slash) entered batting .186 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 47 career games against the G-Men — including a 1-5 performance in the San Francisco set.
In his first chance wearing an A’s home uni, the Florida product collected just two hits. Both of the hits came with a runner on, however, and each left the yard, giving him three on the season.
The sizzling Alonso is batting .325 over the past four weeks, raising his batting average by 40 points over the stretch.
Curveball: Rookie pitching taking center stage
The A’s have received multiple starts from three different rookie hurlers thus far this season. Sean Manaea (3-4, 5.40 ERA) and Overton each took the ball in the set — with Daniel Mengden (1-3, 2.81) notching his first career win in the AT&T Park half of the series.
While Overton, who struggled commanding his go-to changeup, was clobbered for eight runs in three innings of work on Thursday and subsequently optioned to Triple-A Nashville, Manaea enjoyed one of the best starts of his young career on Wednesday. Like Mengden two days prior, the “Throwin’ Samoan” silenced the Orange and Black long enough for the suddenly potent Oakland offense to hand him a “W.”
A’s starters have accounted for a mere 21 wins (fourth-fewest in the American League). The first-year hurlers are responsible for five.
Sinker: Bullpen not a relief
The bullpen, which had been so dominant in the first month of the season, continued their recent scuffle.
In 9-1/3 innings of work, seven relievers relinquished five runs while walking a mind-boggling 10 batters. The group’s ERA has jumped to a less-than-stellar 4.19 (No. 10 AL).
The standout of the faction continues to be Ryan Dull (2-2, 2.23 ERA), who threw a scoreless frame but did not add to his 33-for-33 streak of stranding inherited runners.
Slider: Fernando Rodriguez
As Dull continues trend upward toward a potential All-Star bid, fellow righty reliever Rodriguez (2-0, 4.24 ERA) has watched his stock plummet.
In his past seven outings he has allowed 12 runs (all earned). The worst of those appearances came on Thursday, when the veterans got two outs in the ninth inning while walking five and letting four runs cross the plate.
Pitch out: Drop the Jolly Roger
After snuffing out the National League’s hottest team, the A’s now do battle with the Pittsburgh Pirates (38-41).
For the Pirates, pitching has been a problem as they hold the National League’s sixth-highest team ERA (4.47). Although the Pittsburgh offense has hit the ball considerably well (.265, No. 5 NL), they have grounded into 62 total double plays (sixth-most NL). The double-play ball has been a weapon of the Oakland defense particularly in their most recent series, as they turned five over the two games against the Giants.
The pitching will look to carry the momentum, led by ace Sonny Gray (3-6, 5.03 ERA) who will get the ball on Friday, though it is the Oakland bats that should be expected to continue shouldering the load.