Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Bassitt's 11-K gem just what A's needed

@MartinJGallegos
September 8, 2019

OAKLAND -- In the aftermath of playing essentially two games in one day, the A’s relief corps entered Saturday night a depleted bunch in dire need of saving. Chris Bassitt knew it, and he came to the rescue. Bassitt provided several overworked relievers with much needed-rest by completing six innings

OAKLAND -- In the aftermath of playing essentially two games in one day, the A’s relief corps entered Saturday night a depleted bunch in dire need of saving. Chris Bassitt knew it, and he came to the rescue.

Bassitt provided several overworked relievers with much needed-rest by completing six innings in a 10-2 win over the Tigers at the Coliseum. The victory stretched Oakland’s lead over Cleveland for the second American League Wild Card spot to 1 1/2 games.

Box score

“A lot of times, he gets better as he goes along,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Bassitt. “I was maybe willing to run him back out there for the seventh, but he did his job and we got some guys in the game that weren’t as taxed as some of the other guys. It was a big day for him to give us innings and give some other guys a break in the bullpen.”

The right-hander got the job done with a bit of flair, striking out a career-high 11 batters without issuing a walk, which was also the highest single-game strikeout mark by an A’s starter this season.

Bassitt’s longevity was in doubt through his first two innings of work as his pitch count ballooned to 43. He had runners on base in all but one of his six frames, yet he and rookie catcher Sean Murphy managed to get through them by allowing just two runs on eight hits.

“I just knocked some rust off. The first two innings were just awful,” Bassitt said. “My offspeed wasn’t there. I basically just told Murph to stay with me until I get through it, and I did.”

There have been many nights where Bassitt’s curveball has made opposing batters look silly, but Saturday night was about as nasty as the pitch has looked. He threw the looping curve for 20 of his 108 pitches, generating four swinging strikes with it, all to finish a strikeout.

“We’ve been kind of tinkering my grips with the curveball, because I feel it was popping out of my hand as of late,” Bassitt said. “Tonight was, I would say by far, the best it has been all year.

“It’s fun throwing it. You get some pretty bad swings on it.”

It was all part of a successful plan to be aggressive in the zone as he threw 73 of his pitches for strikes.

Bassitt was backed by an offensive breakout that featured home runs by Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Jurickson Profar.

Profar’s solo shot off Jordan Zimmermann in the second was his 20th of the year, matching his career high and giving the A’s a franchise-record six players with at least 20 in one season.

“He got off to a bit of a slow start, and at some point in time he just forgot about the numbers and decided to play and compete, try to win games,” Melvin said of Profar. “He’s been fantastic for us and is swinging the bat well right now.”

Olson’s solo shot off Zimmerman in the fifth was his career-high-tying 29th and part of the second four-hit game of his career. Known to be a streaky hitter in his young career, Olson has been mostly hot for the last month, now on a 10-game hitting streak that has seen him hit .390 over that stretch.

“I just feel like I’m becoming more aware of my swing,” Olson said. “When something feels off, I feel like I’m addressing it sooner than I have in the past and getting back on track. That’s been big for me this year.”

After being away from the club for the birth of his first child on Thursday, Bassitt returned on eight days’ rest to earn his 10th win of the season, with his strikeout-heavy performance lowering his ERA to 3.64.

It would have been a spectacular performance under any circumstance, but given the fact that he got little to no sleep for about three days due to his duties as a new father, Bassitt even managed to exceed his own expectations.

“I got here and was a zombie for a day, but yesterday and today I felt pretty good,” Bassitt said. “I didn’t realize how bad it would be. It’s been a grind the last three days, to say the least.”

An unlikely double play

On what was Star Wars Fireworks Night at the Coliseum, third baseman Chapman was the recipient of a popup that appeared to be playing some Jedi mind tricks.

A ball hit by Christin Stewart in the first inning struck high in there and traveling well into foul territory near third base before a strong gust of wind pushed it back in play. Chapman was on a wild chase to keep up with it, but the ball ended up landing near the bag at third. Luckily for the A’s, Marcus Semien quickly scooped the ball and shoveled it to Bassitt, who was covering third for the forceout. Bassitt then fired it over to Profar at second for an inning-ending 6-1-4 double play.

“We haven’t seen the wind blow like that here in a while,” Melvin said. “Matt Chapman usually does not get fooled like that. It was swirling, and to be able to turn that at that time, when all of a sudden it looked like there might be some traffic on the bases early, it was a huge play.”

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.