Oakland Athletics: Bullpen saves the day again in shortened Brett Anderson Start; Josh Lucas comes up big and Dustin Fowler homers

For the second consecutive night, the Oakland Athletics lost their starting pitcher to injury in the first three innings. After Andrew Triggs earned his way to a DL stint on Thursday, Brett Anderson left Friday night’s game after suffering a shoulder strain while warming up for the second inning.

For the second consecutive night, though, the A’s bullpen came up huge. Led by newly-called-up reliever Josh Lucas, the Oakland relievers had to throw more than five innings of relief for the second straight night, and held the Toronto Blue Jays to just one run on four hits.

With rookie center fielder Dustin Fowler fueling the offense, Oakland held on to a 3-1 win — a victory that puts the A’s over .500 and guarantees them no worse than a split of the current 10-game road trip and the four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lucas, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville, arrived just an hour to game time and wasn’t in uniform until 20 minutes before first pitch. He was the first called on to relieve Anderson, and was sensational, striking out seven over 3 2/3 innings. Lucas allowed a run on one walk and two hits, a pop-up double to no-man’s land by Luke Maile and Gio Urshela’s bloop RBI single, tying the game for Toronto (22-23) in the fifth.

The A’s had taken a 1-0 lead in the third on Fowler’s first career home run, and the rookie came through again in the seventh. After Chad Pinder’s two-out double, Fowler hit the first double of his young career to give Oakland a 2-1 lead, and Josh Phegley — on the trip in place of Bruce Maxwell — hit the team’s third double in a row to provide instant insurance and chase Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.

It was Phegley’s first hit and RBI of the season, as the catcher made his first start of the year with Maxwell on the restricted list and Jonathan Lucroy getting the night off. As for Estrada, he struck out six without walking a batter but allowed seven hits, all going for extra bases, with Jed Lowrie providing two of the A’s six doubles against Estrada. Oakland (23-22) didn’t have a single until Khris Davis’ two-out hit in the eighth, and Matt Chapman hit the team’s seventh double in the ninth. He was picked off at second upon review despite TV replays indicating that he beat the tag.

Danny Coulombe was the pitcher of record, retiring four batters and walking just one. Chris Hatcher allowed just a two-out hit in the seventh, and after Yusmeiro Petit allowed a walk and single with two-outs in the eighth, Blake Treinen came on to record a four-out save, striking out three. A’s pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts in all.

Ethan Kassel

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