OAKLAND – The A’s did away with their teasing offensive ways Friday night.
Yankees lefty Chris Capuano cracked the door for them in the bottom of the third and the A’s bashed it open with a four-run rally that made the difference in a 6-2 victory at the Coliseum. Oakland has taken the first two of this four-game series and now has won five of its past seven.
A textbook approach worked in this one. The A’s jumped up early and gave ace Sonny Gray (6-2) a comfortable lead, and the right-hander knew how to handle it. He surrendered just four hits over eight innings, struck out five and walked two. Life is good when you give up two runs over eight innings and your ERA actually rises. Gray’s 1.82 ERA continues to lead the American League, and he showed no visible effects from the ankle contusion that forced him from his last start after five innings.
The A’s have had a knack this season for filling the bases up and leaving them that way. But they did exactly what they should have done against a vulnerable pitcher. Capuano (0-3), making just his third start after beginning the year on the DL with a quad injury, didn’t make it as far as five innings in either of his first two starts. The lefty was gone after 5 1/3 innings Friday.
And though it doesn’t seem quite that relevant just yet, the A’s have picked up 1 ½ games on first-place Houston in the past two days and are now 12 games off the pace.
Starting pitching report
Gray extended the A’s excellent run of starting pitching lately. He faced the minimum through four innings, and he didn’t allow his first hit until Brian McCann homered on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the fifth. That’s just the third home run Gray has allowed in 74 innings this season. Gray was still hitting 95 on the stadium radar gun in the eighth. Manager Bob Melvin paid him a visit with two runners aboard and two outs but quickly returned to the dugout, drawing applause from the home fans. Gray wound up getting Chase Headley on a grounder to first on his 101st pitch, and chants of “Sonny! Sonny!” echoed through the Coliseum.
Fernando Rodriguez registered two outs in the ninth but put two runners on. Melvin didn’t mess around, going to closer Tyler Clippard, who got the final out for his second save in as many nights.
At the plate
The A’s were aggressive early in the count against Capuano and it paid off in a four-run rally that featured three doubles. Burns started things with a double and moved to third on Marcus Semien’s single. Ben Zobrist’s grounder got through third baseman Chase Headley for an error that scored a run. Then Billy Butler lined the first pitch he saw for an RBI double to left. Stephen Vogt also jumped on the first pitch and pulled a two-run double down the right field line for a 4-0 lead.
Vogt pulled his double down the line, but it’s notable that he went to the opposite field for a single that beat the shift. He’s done that more than once this homestand.
Brett Lawrie hit a two-run homer to pad the lead in the eighth, the second straight game he’s gone deep.
In the field
Stephen Vogt turned in an impressive defensive game at first base, showing the A’s lose nothing over there when their regular catcher gets out from behind the plate. He scooped two difficult throws in the dirt from Marcus Semien and made a nice backhanded stop of Brian McCann’s grounder in the seventh.
The A’s made a defensive switch in the eighth and put Parrino in at short for Semien. It may not be the last time that move is made when Oakland has a late lead.
Headley’s misplay of Zobrist’s grounder helped usher in Oakland’s four-run rally in the third. Conversely, A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie made a superb play in the eighth, making a diving backhanded stop of Chris Young’s grounder and rifling a throw across the diamond to get him.
The announced turnout was 23,540.
Coming off his first career shutout, Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.69) takes the mound to oppose Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.27) in Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. game.