'Uncharacteristic' win keeps A's afloat in WC

Irvin, 'pen, late defense nail down third straight win, keep pace with Yankees

September 18th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- With 15 games left in the regular season, there’s not really enough time left to look back on each individual outcome. Or, that’s at least how the A’s are looking at it after their 5-4 win over the Angels on Friday night.

Oakland overcame a handful of struggles, namely: leaving 11 runners on base and committing three errors against the Halos at Angel Stadium, a rarity for a club that ranks among the best in terms of team defense. And although it might not have been the cleanest of wins, the A’s did their job in keeping up in the race for an AL Wild Card spot.

The A’s (80-67) kept pace with the Yankees in the Wild Card chase, remaining 2 1/2 games behind New York (83-65) for the second spot. Toronto (82-65) lost, so Oakland gained a game on the third-place Blue Jays, now two games off their pace as well.

“A win is a win, so we can't really dissect it too much,” said Matt Chapman, who went 1-for-3 with two walks in his return to action for the first time since Sept. 11. “It's too late in the season for that. Like we're saying, it's win now. ... The pressure is on. We've got to win every game from here on out, or at least that's the attitude. We can't afford to drop very many games. A win is a win.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin said the style of the win was “uncharacteristic,” though three shutout innings from the backend of the bullpen was a welcome sight.

“A lot of times you don't win when you make three errors,” Melvin said. “But most of that came early in the game. We played our best baseball late in the game and the bullpen did a great job coming in and finishing it out.”

After starter shook off a four-run second inning by tossing four scoreless frames to cap a strong outing, the A’s bullpen kept the Halos at bay with help from some of the key relief arms the club has relied on this season.

Irvin gave up four runs (three of them unearned) in the second inning, but held the Angels to two hits and a walk through his last four innings of work before finishing his outing having thrown 89 pitches (57 strikes) before giving way to Jake Diekman, Trivino and closer Sergio Romo, who notched his third save of the season.

“The bullpen came through today, they're gonna come through again tomorrow and we're gonna need them the rest of the stretch and into the postseason,” Irvin said. “... Starters can't go nine every time, not like they used to at least. It's important that we continue to build and have success. ... The success will lead to more success, so it's just one of the building blocks we need to be strong going into postseason.”

The performance by the bullpen was also aided by an impressive throw from to end the eighth inning, helping Trivino escape what would have been a two-out, runners-on-the-corners situation. On a single to center field, Marte fired a 94.4 mph throw to get Kean Wong out at third base to end the frame.

"I've never seen somebody run on him,” Chapman said. “I think his arm is respected. We know he's got a good arm, but I honestly haven't caught a throw from him from the outfield because a lot of them have been [instances where] maybe guy has first to third pretty easily, so [Marte] keeps the guy at first. But this time he let it rip and I was like, 'Wow this is like, Ramón [Laureano] right here.’ That was a great throw, right on the money.

“He's got a cannon. That's probably why he's got so many assists and nobody even challenges him because I was like, ‘Man, nobody runs on this guy.’ And now I know why.”

Melvin credited the execution late in the ballgame -- both from the relievers and the defense -- as helping turn things around in the victory.