Athletics

Balls flying at Dodger Stadium tough reality for A's pitchers

Athletics

It was as if DJ Khaled was at the game saying “another one,” over and over again, as A’s and the Houston Astros demolished balls on Monday in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

The Astros would walk away from the 10-5 win with 16 hits, while the A’s had eight of their own. Both teams slugged three home runs as well.

Pitchers on either side gave up the hard-hit balls, and the term “balls flying” was repeated throughout the entirety of the nine innings. But that’s Dodger Stadium for you -- especially when it’s 91 degrees out in the middle of the day at first pitch.

“It doesn’t really affect the game plan too much, I think, for the most part, we’re trying to drive balls and we’re not thinking high home runs,” A’s first baseman Matt Olson said after Monday’s game -- he had a homer of his own. “We’re trying to drive the ball on the line and a gapper, something along those lines. Yeah, there are definitely a few balls that got out today that probably don’t go out in the (Oakland) Coliseum, but it’s part of it -- we’re here.”

For A's starter Chris Bassitt, who was on the other end of the exit velocity showdown, he said he was prepared for a high-scoring game against Houston.

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“It didn’t affect me,” Bassitt said after his outing. “Pretty sure if you ask any Dodger player, a day game in this stadium, it’s going to be a shootout. Yeah, I mean, the ball flies -- any mistakes, there’s no pop flies here -- pop flies are home runs, so yeah, I think everyone experienced that.”

In addition to the balls carrying, the mound at Dodger Stadium also appeared to affect some of the relievers. J.B. Wendelken wasn’t having his typical solid outing, as he left more balls up in the zone than usual.

A’s closer Liam Hendriks was watching all of this from the bullpen, and said the conditions of the mound were brought up enough where a discussion needed to be had, but nothing appeared too out of the ordinary.

“I didn’t notice anything particularly different,” Hendriks said on Tuesday. “I think that’s something that if a number of people start saying it, it’s something that we need to look at. Whether it’s the slope of the mound, the height of the mound, something along those aspects where all of a sudden, our landing foot may be getting a little further down the hill and so you’re kind of leaning back a little more and not getting on top of the ball, but it’s something to look into for sure, but it hasn’t been something I’ve noticed. 

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“I know J.B. said that same thing, he just couldn’t get it down,” Hendriks added. “It could be something along those lines.”

We’ll know more if Hendriks pitches on Tuesday, which he said it’s a likely possibility.