Phegley’s three-RBI day, which featured a home run and a double, highlighted a 7-1 victory over the Mariners to complete a three-game sweep, the first time the A’s have swept the Mariners at the Coliseum since Sept. 28-30, 2012. The win was the ninth straight for the A's, pending the completion of their game against the Tigers on May 19, which was suspended due to inclement weather and will be completed on Sept. 6. Oakland led that game, 5-3, in the seventh inning at the point it was suspended. Oakland's streak matches its longest winning streak over the last 13 years.
A backup for the majority of his first six big league seasons, Phegley’s vast improvement is coming in a year in which he is emerging as the everyday catcher for the A’s.
“He’s really taking advantage of an opportunity he’s never had before,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Just when you think a lull is coming, he has another game like today. He’s had several games this year where he was the key bat in the game, and without him, we probably don’t win.”
The home run off Mariners starter Mike Leake in the second was Phegley’s sixth of the year. His two-run double in the seventh pushed him up to 31 RBIs, tying him with Gary Sanchez for the most RBIs among American League catchers.
Phegley upped his average to .281 and his breakout year is creating buzz among his teammates to campaign for his inclusion in the All-Star Game. The last A’s catcher to make an All-Star team was Stephen Vogt in 2016.
“He’s putting up All-Star numbers in the nine-hole, which is pretty crazy,” Sunday’s starter Brett Anderson said. “The energy he brings, he’s playing well. We saw it in spurts in the past, but getting a chance to play every day, he’s been phenomenal and kind of a stalwart. It’s fun to see.”
Anderson would have been fine with just Phegley’s offensive production.
At his best, Anderson works at a fast pace and keeps the ball on the ground for quick outs. Save for a sinker he ran inside on Jay Bruce that was crushed for a seventh-inning solo home run, Anderson did not make many mistakes as he induced three double-play balls and limited Seattle to one run over 6 1/3 innings.
Melvin normally would have pulled Anderson after the six scoreless innings, but with closer Blake Treinen unavailable after pitching in the previous two games, the manager tried to squeeze as many innings out of his starter as he could. Anderson finished with a season-high pitch count of 110 before departing with a runner on first and one out.
“A little out of character with the walks,” Melvin said of Anderson, who walked four batters. “But it seemed like every time he had a walk, he got a double play. When he’s got a lot of balls on the ground, he’s typically pitching well. Not only was he efficient, but he pitched well on top of it.”
Anderson prides himself on pitching deep into starts, and he’s now completed six innings in four of his past five starts. He was forced to depart after 5 1/3 innings with a neck strain in a start at Cleveland on Monday with only one run allowed.
“I just wanted to give us a chance,” Anderson said. “Our starters have been doing a good job of that lately. Other than the hits to Bruce, it wasn’t too bad.”
The Mariners have lost seven games in a row. But Seattle entered the series as a club that had given Oakland headaches earlier in the season, winning the first four matchups.
“The first four games against these guys didn’t really sit well with anybody,” Melvin said. “They played well against us the first four games. After losing two in Japan and two tough ones over there, these guys wanted to come out and have a good series against them. It was good that we finished it off today.”
How the A's have done it
Oakland's nine-game winning streak has been a result of a spike in power on offense and strong run of starting pitching.
In addition to Phegley’s homer, Matt Chapman smashed a two-run homer in the first. It was Chapman’s 13th of the year and the A’s 27th in their last 11 games. In the 23 games prior to this run, they had homered only 15 times.
The starting pitchers had a rough time through the first 29 games, as they had accumulated a 5.12 ERA. Since April 28, the combined ERA of Oakland’s starters is 2.93. They’ve tightened things up even more in their last 10 games, posting a 2.21 ERA.
“These last couple of series our offense has been clicking, defense has been great and starting pitching has given us a chance,” Anderson said. “When you have those three facets, it’s a good recipe for success.”