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Angels get to Montas early, Soria late; A’s winning streak ends at 10

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Held scoreless for six innings following a four-run second, the Angels pieced together a two-out rally in the ninth to halt what had been a 10-game winning streak for the Athletics.

Offensively, Oakland (29-26) leaned heavily on the long ball, scoring each of its four runs on homers — including a Marcus Semien lead-off bomb (6). But it was a mostly punch-less Angels offense that claimed a 6-4 win behind just two extra-base hits. For the Angels (25-29), it was win No. 2 in six early-season chances against the A’s.

Semien started the game off swinging at the first pitch from opener Cam Bedrosian. The 92-mph middle-middle fastball was hit deep into center field to give Oakland an early 1-0 advantage.

The Angels had their best inning of the game in the second, when they pushed four runs across handing Frankie Montas his worst inning of the 2019 campaign. Montas (ND, 6-2, 2.81 ERA) had allowed as many as three runs in a game just twice in his previous 10 starts.

Bob Melvin said he got real uncomfortable in the fourth after a lot of pitches that came in the fourth:

“Throwing close to 100 pitches, they fouled a lot of balls off… gives up a bloop hit scores a couple and they end up scoring four runs off him but as many pitches as he throws, you try to limit the damage. At the end of the day he gives up four runs and we come back and tie it.”

The Angels batted around during Montas’ nightmare frame, and it started in a manor that Montas has prevented in his breakout first half — with a walk of Albert Pujols.

After a single and a second walk in the inning, David Fletcher cashed in on a bases-loaded opportunity with a two-run single to right. Tommy La Stella made it a big inning for the Angels with a two-run double. An inning that featured four hits and three walks — one intentional — finally came to a close with Pujols once again in the box, popping out.

Los Angeles recorded just one more hit, following the loud second, until the ninth.

The A’s found their way back onto the scoreboard in the fifth behind a Ramon Laureano solo homer (6), then knotted things up in the sixth on a two-run homer from Matt Olson (6).

In the bottom of the seventh, Josh Phegley hit a double off the wall and landed on third after a wild pitch by Cody Allen. Robbie Grossman walked to set Matt Chapman up with a chance to put the A’s back ahead, but the A’s third baseman followed the patch of Laureano and Semien rather than the men who had reached going down by way of the strikeout.

Montas entered the game with the fourth best ERA (2.40) in the major leagues. Despite what was by far his worst outing on the year, his new 2.81 is good enough for 10th-best

Montas said it wasn’t his best day:

“There are going to be some days that you are not going to have your best stuff out there and you have to continue competing. That is what I was trying to do today, just try to get as much in as I can. Trying to save the bullpen and keep the team in the game.”

Montas lasted four innings giving up four runs off four hits. He had five strikeouts and five walks with a wild pitch and intentional walk pitching a total of 96 pitches. He was relived by Wei-Chung Wang, making his first major league appearance since 2017. 

Wang kept the Angels scoreless, surrendering just one hit, in the two innings he pitched. He was relieved by Liam Hendricks who also pitched two scoreless innings and finished with two strikeouts. 

With Fernando Rodney now gone — having been released prior to the game Tuesday — Joakim Soria appears to be the weak link in the Oakland bullpen. At least in terms of performance. His 4.73 ERA is worst among active Oakland relievers. And after another rough outing his four losses are new team-worst.

It didn’t start out that way, though.

Soria (L, 1-4, 4.73 ERA) got the first two batters he faced before serving up a La Stella single and turning an 0-2 count to Mike Trout into an eight-pitch walk only to give up 180 feet on a wild pitch. Then, Shohei Ohtani put Los Angeles ahead for good, yanking a line-drive single to right to score a pair.

After the inning, Soria was ejected from screaming at the home plate umpire over a disputed strike zone. Soria on the call:

“It is part of the game. There is a human factor in the game and that is the beauty of the game. I understand he is human and he thought it was a ball and he called it. The only problem is that because of the mistake I gave up two runs. “

Phegley dropped the controversial pitch and that may have been the factor in why it was called a ball. Phegley took responsibility for it after the game:

“It’s a tough pitch on the outer half. I was kind of set up inner half. But I have to catch the ball to give us a better chance.”

Soria said the team is carrying good momentum right now. “I think his loss doesn’t mean anything to us.”

The A’s made a little noise in the bottom half when Josh Phegley walked with one out, but Hansel Robles (S, 6, 3.70 ERA) snuffed out the Oakland rally before it ever blossomed to lock down a win for Ty Buttrey (W, 3-2, 1.30 ERA).

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