Oakland A's: 5 Key Takeaways from Series vs. Los Angeles Angels
It was a typical combative and competitive series between these intrastate rivals, highlighted by Monday night/Tuesday morning’s epic 19-inning marathon.
As always, everything you have come to expect from these two teams did happen. There was excitement, fun, drama, suspense and overall admirable battling on both sides. The type of all-around play that has made this rivalry one of the best in all of baseball.
Despite all the familiarities between these two ball clubs, there were some key surprises and lessons from this week’s series. Here are five things we learned from these three games between the A’s and Angels.
Brett Anderson Is a Tough Guy
This is somewhat of an ironic statement about a guy who has spent the past three seasons battling myriad injuries.
Unfortunately, 2013 has been more of the same for Anderson.
He has been banged up with quite a list of injuries in just one month. It has reached the point that the Athletics had scheduled to skip his turn in the rotation for last Monday’s tilt with the Angels, fearing his nagging maladies were taking a toll on his performance.
Yet there he was, warming up in the bullpen in the 12th inning to make his first MLB relief appearance despite the intention of resting him.
What an off-day.
The 25-year-old gutted through 5.1 innings of relief, only to be taken out after aggravating his sprained right ankle. He pitched well in general—magnificently considering the circumstances—allowing one run on three hits. With the A’s out of pitchers, Anderson’s performance earned high praise throughout the clubhouse.
Though nobody would question his all-around toughness, by sacrificing himself in such dire straits he added to his leadership on the field. It was truly a remarkable showing that he threw himself out there and out of commission.
Anderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day.
Coco Crisp Returns Home: The Disabled List
Speaking of oft-injured Oakland Athletics' players, Coco Crisp is back on the disabled list.
The veteran outfielder missed 155 team games between the 2010 and 2012 seasons because of various injuries. And that’s just with Oakland.
The last time Crisp appeared in more than 140 games was back in 2007 with the Boston Red Sox. His physical makeup simply does not allow for him to withstand an entire season.
That said, the odds of Crisp appearing on the disabled list this season—or in any given season—are high. So if you made a bet that he would be back on it in 2013, then you should collect your money now and double-down that he’ll make another one later this season.
Crisp was placed on the 15-day DL alongside Brett Anderson on Tuesday, injuring his left hamstring in Monday’s overtime thriller.
Crisp’s injury hurts the A’s lineup tremendously.
The 33-year-old was having a great start to the season, ranking second in the American League in runs scored (24) and stolen bases (eight) and ninth in slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.943). He also has a remarkable 17 bases on balls compared to only seven strikeouts. Clearly he’s at the top of his game.
And hopefully for the A’s, he still will be in a couple of weeks.
Hello, Luke Montz. Nice to Meet You
The 2012 Oakland A’s season was a remarkable display, capped by an unexpected playoff appearance.
What helped make the year so extraordinary was the fact that 50 different players were used throughout the season. With injuries, suspensions, demotions and platoons, the A’s roster seemed to have a transaction every week.
So far, 2013 isn’t on pace to match last season’s turnover rate; but that’s not to say the A’s clubhouse hasn't seen its share of brand-new faces.
With Brett Anderson and Coco Crisp being shelved for 15 days, the Athletics made another roster change: They brought up catcher Luke Montz on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old fits the prototypical A’s player, specifically his vagabond path to the 25-man roster. He last played in the bigs in 2008 with the Washington Nationals, where he tallied a mere 21 at-bats.
His random journey to Oakland is similar to those of his A’s teammates who made significant impacts for the first time last season.
Here’s hoping Montz can likewise contribute during his fill-in position with the team, no matter how long or short it lasts. His start in Wednesday’s game was modest, yet exciting. He was 1-for-4, smacking his very first Major League double in Oakland’s late-game comeback attempt.
Quite an A’s debut. Seems like he’ll fit right in.
Mark Trumbo Is a Stud
On a team full of All-Star hitters, Mark Trumbo has been the Angels’ most consistent hitter this season. And this series was proof that the Athletics will need to keep an eye on him in the future.
The 29-year-old smashed a home run in each of the three games, doubling his season total to six.
The powerful right-handed hitter has played in every game this season. He currently ranks ninth in the AL in home runs and carries an impressive .301 batting average.
With outfielder Josh Hamilton struggling and legend Albert Pujols middling for most of the season, Trumbo has been the singular constant force offensively on an otherwise un-clutch Los Angeles squad. And he very nearly kept his team in the series versus Oakland all by himself.
With his game-winning home run in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game, Oakland is glad not to have to see him again for awhile.
The A's Are Dramatic...duh
This isn’t really brand-new information. Everybody knows the plucky Athletics exude a never-say-die persona befitting of their on-field escape acts.
And Monday’s contest showed determination and guile.
The A’s exhausted their entire dugout to pull off a 19-inning victory, culminated by Brandon Moss' two-run game-winner. No base was left unturned, no piece of equipment was left unused. Bob Melvin’s lineup card was practically rewritten. It was extraordinary.
Yet the result wasn't.
But in the end, the Athletics did what was anticipated of them: They prevailed.
There was no doubt that the A’s would be the winning team. That annoying persistence has been ingrained in every fan and opponent’s mind these past two seasons to the point that Oakland having three runners reach base on Wednesday’s 5-4 defeat was a huge letdown.
How did the A’s not win? It’s almost too foreign to imagine them falling short in such a close game. Even despite Yoenis Cespedes’s baserunning error the Athletics still had a chance to pull it off.
With all the drama they’ve put fans through these last two years, the only shocking thing was that Oakland didn’t win on Wednesday.
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