Starting pitchers, we don’t need not stinking starting pitchers?
Scioscia (and I’d guess at least partly Dipoto’s) master plan went off without a hitch. Definitely a little bit of good luck, too, but no real hitches. The eight man-attack kept Oakland’s bats quiet all night, combining to outduel an excellent Jeff Samardzija.
None of it would’ve been possible had Cory Rasmus not been so terrific in his three innings of work (already people are clamoring to have him convert to a starter full-time next season). He bought the Angels those precious innings, greatly narrowing the window the window in the game that would need to be covered by the non-essential relievers on the staff.
That part was a little hairy. Bringing Michael Roth in was a stroke of brilliance, in theory, as it would neutralize all the lefties in the Oakland starting lineup. It would even be a nice bonus if Oakland burned through their bench to try and face Roth with righties, which they did in Gomes. The rub in all of it was that Roth didn’t make out very well. That meant it was Yoslan Herrera who came in to face Gomes (why not Morin?), yet some Herrera induced a game-saving doubleplay ball.
The rest was smooth sailing. A lot of pitching changes, but smooth sailing.
Let’s do it in again in five days.
Run Expectancy Rundown
Thank goodness for the bullpen, too, because the offense was completely absent tonight. Aybar came up with the RBI hit (which Pujols may not have scored on had it still been cannon-armed Reddick in right, by the way), but that was all set up by an error and the second run was the result of a wild pitch. For what seemed to be the third game in a row, an umpire with a huge strike zone didn’t help matters, but the Halos really did nothing on offense in this game.
The parade of relievers allowed the A’s just three singles, two walks (one of which was intentional) but also eleven strikeouts. Josh Donaldson had two of those as he continues to be the one guy the Angels just can’t solve. Everyone else, especially Brandon Moss, they have figured out pretty well.
Starting Pitcher Scores
Samardzija as obviously great as he went the distance without allowing a walk or an extra base hit. Cory Rasmus technically started, but it was really no different than a long relief appearance as there was clearly never any intention of him pitching more than three innings. But they were a terrific three innings with him allowing just one hit and fanning six. He gets used so seldom this year, but while we all weren’t paying attention, Rasmus has become a pretty good pitcher.
There was not battle here. In a weird contrast, the A’s used no relievers while the Angels used all relievers and all their relievers were great, combining for 0.369 WPA, with Roth the only one to generate a negative WPA number. The travesty of it all is that Yoslan Herrera, of all people, is the guy that gets the win, once again proving how stupid pitcher wins are.
Ultimately, this had the look of a boring game. The A’s had the inning in which they almost scored, then the Angels did score. Aside from a little drama in the ninth inning, there really wasn’t much else going on. Despite that, this felt like a constantly tense game.
This was the very definition of a team effort, but none of it would’ve been possible had Rasmus not gotten them off to such a good start.