It’s said that the Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, but Sunday’s game between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels was a marathon all by itself. A bullpen-heavy game filled with all sorts of twists and turns on a hot and humid Orange County afternoon took nearly four hours and finally ended in favor of the visiting A’s, 8-7.
It seemed like Lou Trivino’s strikeout of Shohei Ohtani to end an Angels threat in the sixth would be the biggest at-bat of the game, but it was far from over. Failure to add on against the Angel bullpen, plus a shaky outing by Jeurys Familia for the first time since his arrival in Oakland, made for a tight finish before Blake Treinen took care of one of the only stress-free innings all day, striking out the side in the ninth for his 30th save.
Having given up a go-ahead homer to Justin Upton in the sixth inning of Friday night’s loss, Trivino was called on with two outs in the sixth and an 8-5 lead to face Upton once again after Ryan Buchter walked Kole Calhoun. Upton walked, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Trivino tied Ohtani up with a fastball to end the inning.
After Williams Jerez struck out the side in the top of the eighth, Familia took the hill and retired the first two batters with minimal trouble before walking Calhoun and allowing an Upton double. Ohtani dropped a single into left field, scoring a pair and cutting the lead to one, marking the first time Familia had allowed earned runs since joining the A’s during the All-Star Break. He did recover to get Albert Pujols to ground out to end the inning.
Though Oakland (70-48) failed to add on in the top of the ninth against Blake Parker, Treinen needed just 11 pitches to strike out the side and end the game, freezing Kaleb Cowart on a 100-mph fastball.
The A’s jumped out to an early lead and scored throughout the first five innings to take an 8-3 lead. Taylor Cole served as the opener for the Angels’ bullpen game, and he allowed three runs in the first. A Khris Davis sac fly brought home the game’s first run, a Matt Olson two-out single scored the second, and a Marcus Semien infield hit sent in the third. David Fletcher, filling in at shortstop with defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons a late scratch, was able to corral Semien’s grounder but had no play.
A similar play on a Semien infield hit started a four-run rally in the top of the fourth after Los Angeles (59-60) drew even. Fletcher made a tremendous effort on a ball in the hole, but only Simmons would’ve had a chance to throw Semien out at first. That hit, one of three on the day for the A’s shortstop, led to four runs off Jim Johnson. Nick Martini, who entered the day 0-for-11 on the month, broke the tie with an RBI single, and Matt Chapman followed with a sac fly. Jed Lowrie delivered a two-run homer on a hanging breaking ball to make it a 7-3 game. The A’s scored once more in the fifth as Semien doubled off Hansel Robles, part of his 8-for-16 series, and scored on a Chad Pinder single.
Both Semien and Lowrie helped fuel the offense after breaking out of prolonged slumps. Semien had struggled to hit for power over the past two months, while Lowrie had been playing through an injury over the past three weeks.
Trevor Cahill lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits. He allowed a leadoff double to Calhoun and a two-out single to Pujols, getting the Angels on the board in the first, and the hosts tied it in the third on a Calhoun RBI groundout and Upton single, bringing home .212 hitter Eric Young Jr.
Cahill could not get the final out of the fifth, instead allowing a two-out RBI double to Jose Fernandez. Yusmeiro Petit struck out Fletcher to end the inning, but was lifted in the sixth after allowing a solo homer to Francisco Arcia to cut it to 8-5. Arcia, a 28-year-old rookie who spent 12 years in the minor leagues, now has three home runs and 13 RBI since being called up on July 26.
The newest member of the A’s bullpen, Fernando Rodney, was credited with the win. His bottom of the seventh was one of the cleaner innings by an Oakland reliever, as he allowed just a two-out double to Fletcher and struck out Kaleb Cowart to keep the lead at 8-5.
With the Seattle Mariners beating the Houston Astros 4-3 in 10 innings to finish a four-game sweep in Texas, the A’s remain a game-and-a-half ahead of Seattle for the second American League Wild Card spot but now trail the Astros by just 2 1/2 games for the AL West lead.