The Oakland Athletics put their six-game losing streak to bed with a resounding 14-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, doing so behind a career night from Josh Phegley.
Phegley set a new franchise record for RBI by a catcher, knocking in eight with four hits, including a pair of three-run doubles and a homer. The first of those doubles was part of a five-run top of the second inning, a rally fueled by poor Pirates defense.
After Pittsburgh (14-15) scored in the bottom of the first, Khris Davis reached on an error by third baseman Jung Ho Kang and scored after singles by Stephen Piscotty and Kendrys Morales. Jurickson Profar was then hit by a pitch and Phegley sent a hard-hit ball down the third base line that skimmed off of Kang’s glove, ricocheted off the side wall in left and allowed all three runners to score.
Phegley wasn’t the unlikeliest offensive contributor for Oakland (15-19) on the night, as Morales also had three hits and starting pitcher Brett Anderson found his way aboard three times. The first of those came when Anderson tried to bunt Phegley over, with pitcher Joe Musgrove fielding the bunt and trying to get Phegley at third. When Phegley retreated to second, Kang’s poor throw to first allowed Anderson to reach and let Phegley advance to the base that the Pirates had tried to keep him from. Phegley came in to score on a Marcus Semien RBI groundout.
Phegley singled in another run in the third, and after an Anderson single loaded the bases, Semien walked to make it 7-1 after taking ball three on a pitch that home plate umpire Jerry Meals could have easily rung him up on to end the inning. The walk also ended Musgrove’s night; he allowed seven runs (five earned) in 2 2/3 innings after entering the night with the second-best ERA among National League starters at 1.54.
Four more runs would cross the plate against reliever Nick Kingham in the fourth, with Profar singling one in after a Morales walk. Phegley then unloaded a three-run double to left-center, and the only blemish on his night came when he was ruled out at the plate on review, after Anderson had singled to center for his second hit of the night and third time on base.
Anderson managed to settle down on the mound after a rocky first inning, allowing a run on a Josh Bell force out that could have been a double play ball, had Semien and Profar not both tried to cover second base. Unfortunately, Profar’s defense was still poor on Friday, with the blunder on the would-be double play and his eighth error on the year, which came on a routine ground ball that he threw away by five feet.
Skye Bolt made his Major League debut after the game was out of reach, fouling out to first and striking out. He did record his first career put-out, securing Josh Bell’s fly ball to end the seventh.
Matt Chapman hit his ninth homer of the year, going opposite-field in the top of the seventh, and Phegley’s solo homer in the ninth capped off the scoring and his remarkable night.