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A’s topple Texas 6-1 in strong Chris Bassitt debut

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A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty changed the game in his at-bats Monday night, driving in three runs in Oakland’s 6-1 win against the Rangers. The Rangers, meanwhile, left 10 men on base and couldn’t make it pay off.

Starter Chris Bassitt suffered a right leg contusion during an exhibition game in Japan, and made his 2019 debut Monday. Bassitt (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas last Wednesday and enjoyed his first start and win of the season.

It was a strong debut for Bassitt, who went five scoreless innings and allowed only two hits. He finished the night with seven strikeouts and four walks.

Ryan Dull was called up from Triple-A Monday, and relieved Bassitt in the sixth inning.

Bassitt andJosh Phegley go way back and have a special relationship. The first time Phegley caught for Bassitt was in 2014, and they have grown to trust one another, Phegley said:

“He just lets me call the game. He throws what I put down because he trusts his stuff is good enough and he just has to go out there and execute his pitches.”

Phegley said Bassitt didn’t really have a very good command early, and said Bassitt admitted he was a little amped up for his first start of the year in Oakland, but they made adjustments:

“He (Bassitt) has the ability to trust in his stuff and he knows he is good enough to get guys out, that is his best asset. … For him to persevere and to be back up here with a quality start like that, doesn’t surprise anyone in this clubhouse.”

Bob Melvin knew Bassitt wouldn’t go six or seven innings, and that asking him to pitch into the 90’s today was a lot:

“He was up for it, he felt great, gave us what we needed, came out with zero on the board and a lead. That’s about all we could ask for today.”

The A’s (12-13) were able to score runs early. In the second inning with a 1-1 count, Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer deep into center field to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Piscotty now has four home runs this season. 

Piscotty forced half of tonight’s runs off his at-bats and helped snap Oakland’s three-game losing streak.

In the third inning, Phegley hit a hard ball down third base line for a stand=up double to lead off the inning. Mark Canha singled just over shortstop Elvis Andrus’s head to advance Phegley to third.

Matt Chapman then hit a sacrifice fly deep into right field to bring in Phegley, which pushed the lead to 2-0. 

Rangers starting pitcher Mike Minor stumbled in the sixth inning, walking both Chapman and Khris Davis. With one out, Canha made Minor (L, 2-2, 3.21 ERA) pay for the walks, hitting a ground ball down the third base line for a double which brought in Chapman. Piscotty followed with a sac fly deep into center field tracks, scoring Davis to make it 4-0.

Texas (12-9) scored their one and only run in the seventh inning. Shin-Soo Choo singled just past second baseman Profar after Mathis was safe at first on a bunt that Chapman couldn’t get to in time. Mathis scored from third on a RBI fly ball from Danny Santana.

Patrick Wisdom pinch hit for Elvis Andrus, who was hit by a 94-mph fast ball in the right hand from Bassitt in the first inning. Andrus left the game due to precaution, as Texas wanted to make sure it wasn’t a contusion. Andrus’ x-rays were negative.

It paid off, as Wisdom came to the plate with two outs, and hit a line drive to left field for a double. Wendelken went two-thirds of an inning, giving up one hit.

Chapman started the eighth inning with a base hit to left-center but was called out at second on fielders choice after third baseman Cabrera made a beautiful play at third on the  Davis hard grounder. Chad Pinder singled to left, advancing Davis to second.

Piscotty singled to deep right-center, and an error by center fielder DeSchields allowing both Davis and Pinder to score and advanced Piscotty to second. Piscotty finished the night with a home run, sac fly, and a RBI. His sacrifice fly ball was his favorite contribution of the night.

Piscotty said he saw the ball well:

“Honestly, I felt better about the sacrifice fly. … We had a three-run lead, truing to really add on there and save the bullpen a little bit. Those are the at-bats you really need to bear down and try to get something in the outfield.”

After sending down Ryan Butcher to Triple-A, the A’s no longer have a left-handed starting pitcher. Manager Bob Melvin hopes to see him back in mid-May.

Rodney came in to close the game, and not only had the save, but passed Cy Young in appearances.

Bassitt joked that he pitched effectively wild and gave all credit to Phegley for calling a good game and keeping him in control:

“Me and Phegley’s relationship, it’s grown a ton. We’ve been together a long, long time and its more so him understanding how to control me out there.”

Up Next

Oakland A’s Frankie Montas (3-1, 2.70 ERA) will match up against Texas Rangers Lance Lynn (2-1, 4.44 ERA) tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m. for game two of the series.

Notes

Ramon Laureano was named player of the week for his home-run robbing catch on Easter Sunday. … Piscotty extended his hitting streak to 15 games against the Rangers. … The A’s snapped their three game losing streak. … Tonight the A’s staged an energy-efficient National Anthem, which consisted of turning off the scoreboard and sound system so the entire stadium would sing acapella. It didn’t go as one might think. With an attendance of 8,073, it was hard to hear, and wasn’t on pace. But it was a good effort. 

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