While the Giants used six relievers and went with a near-wholesale lineup change for Sunday — inserting Chase d’Arnaud, Nick Hundley, Austin Slater and Kelby Tomlinson into the lineup — the A’s will have to limit their powerful bullpen, and have several regulars on ice.
“We’re two games into the break, and it feels like we’ve played 20 in a row,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve got some banged up players that aren’t in there today, and we’re going to be short some guys in the bullpen.”
Jed Lowrie was hit in the hip and fouled a ball off of the same spot, so he was held out of the lineup. Lowrie, Melvin said, was ready for a day off anyway, not getting a true All-Star break since he played in the Midsummer Classic. Chad Pinder, who stepped on Alen Hanson’s foot and rolled over first base trying to beat out a throw was also sore on his side, including his wrist and thumb. Mark Canha was also down, after hamstring cramps on Saturday, but he was available to pinch hit. Nick Martini and Franklin Barreto both got starts.
Luckily for the A’s, they have reinforcements, at least on the pitching side: Newly-arrived reliever Jeurys Familia. The Dominican right-hander, acquired on Saturday from the New York Mets, didn’t arrive at the stadium until little over an hour before game time, but Melvin said that, should the situation arise, he would be Oakland’s closer, since Blake Treinen threw 41 pitches in the extra-inning affair.
“Thank goodness,” Melvin said. “… We’ll be down some guys, and that’s one of the reasons you’re bringing in an elite armlike that, is that it’s not going to be every day that guys are available, and to be able to spread it around some, a guy with experience closing, certainly today that will be his job.”
Treinen (2 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts), Ryan Buchter (2/3 inning, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches) and Lou Trivino (1 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts, 24 pitches) threw after starter Trevor Cahill’s 5 2/3 frames, with Yusmeiro Petit coming on to strike out two in a clean top of the 11th.
Bringing in Familia will be able to lessen all of their loads going forward, particularly the rookie Trivino, who’s thrown 46 innings with a 1.17 ERA in his first big league campaign. Trivino hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2014, when he started 26 games and threw 139.2 innings. He hasn’t thrown more than 68 innings since 2015, his first year as mostly a reliever (he still started nine games that year, and threw 89 2/3 innings).
“It’s also about shortening the game,” Melvin said. “You can only do that so often during the course of a week, and you don’t want to overload these guys, especially a guy like Trivino, who’s not used to this kind of workload. It’d be great to have him here, and whether it’s the eighth, whether it’s the seventh, whatever it may be, we’ve used Lou quite a bit as we did again last night, where it’s one [inning] plus. To be able to spread that around, we should be able to benefit from that by the end of the season.”
Melvin had a unique take on Saturday’s ninth-inning shenanigans that involved Giants reliever Mark Melancon tryingto get out of the way of a Hunter Pence liner into the bullpen. Melancon, trying to clear himself of the ball, blindly threw a folding chair into right fielder Stephen Piscotty’s midsection, as he charged into the bullpen to get the ball. The resultant throw was off line, allowing Alen Hanson to score, tying the game at 3-3.
Because of the Oakland Coliseum’s age and status as a multi-use facility, there really aren’t spaces for off-field bullpens. The A’s will likely have on-field bullpens until they get a new ballpark built, so something will have to be done in the meantime.
“To me, it impeded the play, it was significant in the play but the rule states, unless it’s intentional, in a scenario like that, they can’t do anything about it,” Melvin said. “We could try to maybe expand that area, to get all the bags and the chairs in maybe just a dead area, once it goes in there. We could look at that. That was the first time it’s popped up since I’ve been here.”
Melvin suggested expanding the bullpen area shaded by a wooden canopy, and make it a dead area for bags and folding chairs, where relievers could sit. Melvin said the club could potentially look at that as soon as next year.
“It didn’t appear that it was intentional,” Melvin said. “It did affect the play.”
After playing in front of a crowd of Coliseum baseball-game-record 56,310, the A’s went back to the Coliseum’s normal, non-Mount Davis capacity for Sunday’s finale, but Melvin gave the experience high marks.
The crowd didn’t really get into the game until Jonathan Lucroy’s walk-off hit, because for the first eight innings, all the A’s had for offense were a pair of bases-loaded walks and two pop-fly singles from Matt Chapman.
“It was crazy, all the way around,” Melvin said. “It was a crazy crowd, it was unusual seeing people up there [on Mount Davis], it was loud, I was happy we could get them involved. It was via the walk that got them going, and then the whole game turned out to be a very entertaining game, and I’m happy we won. We want to play well in front of big crowds here … It’s kind of apropos that the game played out the way it did with as many people here in the stands.”