A's tenacity continues with nightcap win
The mood inside the A’s clubhouse was understandably somber on Saturday morning, after learning Matt Chapman would undergo season-ending surgery. But this group is a resilient bunch, one that will not languish in the reality of a final stretch of the season without its star.
The A’s rolled with the punches, finishing the day on a high note with a 10-1 drubbing of the Rangers behind a great performance from Chris Bassitt, in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Globe Life Field. At 29-16 after a split of the twin bill, Oakland owns the second best record in the American League.
"Whatever roadblocks we’ve run into in the past, these guys seem to respond,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They did it right away, too. Some really good at-bats early in the game gave Bass some breathing room. You just have to keep moving on. It’s always about the next opportunity.”
Chapman’s presence in the lineup will be tough to replicate. However, the A’s have always had a next-man-up mentality when dealing with injuries. After licking their wounds in Game 1 on Saturday, Oakland rallied around the absence of Chapman with a collective effort on offense, sending 13 batters to the plate in a seven-run second inning.
The second-inning outburst wasn’t produced in typical fashion by the high-powered A’s offense. Instead, the seven runs were the result of five singles, four walks and an error. This marked just the second time a club has scored seven runs or more in one inning without an extra-base hit this season, after the White Sox did the same in the seventh inning of a game against the Royals on Aug. 2.
The first extra-base hit didn’t come until the fifth, as Marcus Semien’s three-run homer pushed the A’s lead to double digits at 10-0.
“We just have to keep playing,” Semien said. “We knew this year would be tough with injuries and just the schedule in general. This is a tough part in our schedule, so it’s tough to lose some guys. But I know we have good depth in the organization. People are stepping up when they need to, so we’ll be OK.”
Though he sat on the bench for nearly an hour in between innings as he watched the A’s run up the score in the second, Bassitt showed no signs of rust at any point. The right-hander twirled six innings of one-run ball, with his only blemish a solo homer by Joey Gallo when the game was well in hand in the sixth.
“I don’t like having all the runs scored in one inning, because sitting there was definitely not fun,” Bassitt said. “I don’t know how many times I had to throw in the cage. But I won’t ever complain about that many runs.”
With the A’s surely to use the final few weeks of the regular season to ponder their postseason pitching plans for a Wild Card Series, Bassitt continues to make his case to slot into one of those three games. Now 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA, Bassitt has turned in starts of two or fewer runs in six of nine outings this season. The righty limited Texas to one run on eight hits and two walks on Saturday, racking up a season-high eight strikeouts over six frames.
“We’re human. We’re definitely thinking playoffs every single day and what it’s going to take,” Bassitt said. “We definitely need to lock it in and be ready for that. We can’t overlook any team, so we’ve got to take care of business. We’re fighting for a No. 1 or 2 seed. But playoffs are definitely on our mind.”
But the show must go on without Chapman. While replacing a 2019 All-Star third baseman who brings that type of offensive and defensive production is implausible, the A’s won’t back down from their World Series goals set forth back in Spring Training.
“[Chapman] is our leader on and off the field. It’s a huge blow to us,” Bassitt said. “But luckily, we have a lot of really good guys. We’re not going to make up for losing Matt Chapman. He’s a world-class player. But we have enough guys to fill the void and good enough to at least give us a chance to win every single game.”