One game into a three-game duel between American League West rivals, the visiting Oakland Athletics look intent on continuing a trend that has developed in recent years against the Los Angeles Angels.
In a back-and-forth affair Friday, the A’s rallied for an 8-4 victory over the Angels and aim to continue their hold on their opponent on Saturday.
Last season, the A’s won six of the 10 games between the teams. In 2019, Oakland was a dominating 13-6 over the Angels.
Once again, the A’s used the long ball to win on Friday. Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano, Chad Pinder and Jed Lowrie all hit home runs. Pinder’s three-run shot in the seventh inning gave Oakland the lead for good. Laureano had four hits, while Pinder had three.
The A’s are tied for second in the major leagues with 63 home runs, but they are aware that long-term success figures to depend on the ability to string together hits. Winning close games will be a must. The A’s are 11-4 in one-run games and were in a close one Friday until pulling away late.
“You’re going to have to win games where, at times, it’s low-scoring and good pitching,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You’re going to have to do some things in different ways. The days that we manufacture runs and get key hits with runners in scoring position, those games make you feel like you don’t necessarily need to hit home runs all the time to win.”
The Angels have been known to thrive with the long ball as well. They have 59 home runs this season, backed by an American League-leading 14 from Shohei Ohtani.
In Friday’s game, though, Ohtani went 0-for-3 with a walk, hitting a warning-track fly ball in the first inning.
Ohtani has eight career home runs against the A’s, tied for his most against any opponent along with eight against the Texas Rangers.
Even without a significant contribution from Ohtani, the Angels had home runs from Jose Iglesias and Jared Walsh, then looked to be in position for the victory when Juan Lagares gave them a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning on a two-run triple.
The Angels even had their bullpen lined up as they hoped with Mike Mayers, Tony Watson and Raisel Iglesias ready for the late innings. But Mayers gave up a three-run go-ahead home run to Pinder, while Iglesias gave up home runs to Laureano and Lowrie in the ninth.
The Angels now have a 5.05 ERA from their bullpen, while the relievers have given up a major league-leading 31 home runs.
“We’ve had this several times this season and that is the issue,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve given up a lot of runs late when we’ve had leads and it just happened again. That’s the most frustrating way to lose when you fight, fight, fight, come back and it goes wrong.”
Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy (0-5, 6.02 ERA) has been dealing with a foot injury, and gave up a combined 13 earned runs over his last two outings, is expecting to start Saturday. He is 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against the A’s.
The A’s will send right-hander Chris Bassitt (3-2, 3.88 ERA) to the mound Saturday. In nine career appearances against the Angels (seven starts), Bassitt is 3-3 with a 5.15 ERA.
–Field Level Media