SAN FRANCISCO -– The temperature was a blustery 55 degrees at first pitch Thursday at AT&T Park.
It was baseball paradise to A’s starter Chris Bassitt.
After more than a month spent in the dry air and hitter-friendly conditions of Arizona, the right-hander was thrilled to be back in the cool Bay Area climate, and did he ever notice a difference on the mound in Oakland’s 3-1 loss to the Giants in the opener of the Bay Bridge Series.
“Nothing moves in Arizona the way you want it to move,” Bassitt said. “It’s like a cue ball you’re throwing. It’s dry, the ball’s not right. You get out here and it’s like ‘Holy crap, where’s this been the whole time.’”
Bassitt was sharp in his final tune-up for the regular season. He gave up three hits and a run over four innings, striking out three and walking two in 81 pitches. The plan was to make it a short night for Bassitt, keeping him fresh for his Wednesday start against the White Sox in the A’s third game of the regular season.
He fared well even without his best breaking stuff, spotting his fastball to ring up Joe Panik and Buster Posey looking to end the third.
He finished the spring with a 4.66 ERA over five starts. That’s not an overly impressive figure, but the right-hander was pretty steady during the Cactus League. He secured the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Sonny Gray and Rich Hill, and the 27-year-old looks forward to being part of his first Opening Night roster in the majors.
“I’m very, very excited with where I’m at,” Bassitt said. “Physically, mentally … I feel way more prepared than I ever have.”
He was helped early by a couple nice plays by first baseman Yonder Alonso, who scooped a Marcus Semien throw in the dirt in the first inning, then picked another bounced throw from second baseman Jed Lowrie to complete a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth.
For all the talk of the A’s defensive woes this spring, little mention has been made of the potential impact Alonso could make. He arrived to the A’s this winter in a trade from San Diego with a strong defensive reputation. That’s no small thing for Oakland’s infield, which isn’t considered Glove Glove-caliber around the horn.
“It’s confidence, right?” Lowrie said. “You know that if you don’t throw it right at his chest, more than likely he’s still going to pick you up.”
The A’s committed two more errors Thursday, pushing their Major League-high total to 44 for the spring. Semien let a hard shot off the bat of Matt Duffy get by him in the second. Josh Reddick was charged with an error on a tough play in the fifth when Buster Posey’s single in the fifth bounced away from him to allow Posey an extra bag.
A first baseman won’t take over a game with his glove no matter how good it is. But for this A’s team, Alonso needs to be a vacuum on all throws within the vicinity of the bag.
“He’s the type of guy you know you can miss low, and he’s gonna do what you’ve seen him do all spring and again tonight,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… If it gets by the first baseman at (the Coliseum), a lot of times it’s two bases, not just one.”
Melvin said Coco Crisp, who’s been nursing a tight hamstring, came out of his pregame work feeling good and will start in center field Friday night. He’s missed the past three games.
Reliever Liam Hendriks gave up four hits an earned run in his one inning of work. He took a comebacker off his right leg, but Melvin said he was OK after the game.