Athletics

Chris Bassitt gives A's confidence after gritty outing against Angels

Chris Bassitt gives A's confidence after gritty outing against Angels

Chris Bassitt’s pitch count neared its ceiling Monday during a troublesome fourth inning where outs proved elusive. The A’s swingman turned replacement starter was aiming for roughly 70 pitches, but two straight hits to start the inning prompted a mound visit and some outside concern that Bassitt's effectiveness had reached its end.

A's manager Bob Melvin didn’t hold that belief.

“I still felt good about him,” Melvin said. “I still felt like four innings and 70 pitches was a good mark. The velocity was still there. The movement was still there. And he’s a real competitor and wanted to finish that inning. It didn’t surprise me that he did.”

Bassitt finished strong. He got Albert Pujols to hit a grounder down the third baseline that allowed Matt Chapman to throw a runner out at home. Then he allowed a single to load the bases, but Bassitt coaxed a 1-2-3 double play out of Andrelton Simmons that negated the threat.

Bassitt did his job, and five relief pitchers did theirs, closing out a 3-0 victory over the Angels on Monday afternoon at Oakland Coliseum.

The A’s got a good start from someone expected to be in the bullpen, joining the rotation after it was clear Jesus Luzardo wouldn’t be ready for a spot following two weeks in quarantine following a coronavirus test.

Bassitt has been a swingman for a while now, though has ended up starting most of his games due to injury. He was 10-5 with a 3.81 ERA over 144 innings, with 25 starts in 28 appearances last season. He led the A’s with 141 strikeouts.

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The A’s have great confidence in Bassitt after past performances, which is why Melvin felt comfortable starting the regular season well despite having Bassitt step into the rotation. That’s why Melvin felt comfortable letting him work out of that difficult fourth inning.The 31-year old most always shows up when called to pitch.

“He pitched great,” Melvin said. “He was only going to go 70 pitches today because he was only at 45 his last time out. He was tired and had to work hard for a couple of innings at the end, but we’ve seen him get to the point that, when he takes the mound, we just feel great. That’s due to the performance and how he has matured and been accepting of a role.”

[RELATED: Chapman shows immense value to A's when glove, bat get hot]

Bassitt has been good for the A’s no matter when he throws. He worked through some mechanical issues and still posted four shutout innings. His stuff was good and he had firm command, facts apparent when he struck out Mike Trout twice in as many attempts. The first came on a 70 mph, sweeping curveball. The second came on an 83.5 mph changeup.

“Both of my strikeouts of Trout were -- you’re throwing it and thinking, ‘This could go 600 feet,’ " Bassitt said. “When he swings and misses, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t usually throw curveballs and changeups to Trout, but it worked out, I guess.”

Bassitt helped the A’s win three of their first four games including one with a substitute starter. Another one throws on Tuesday, when Daniel Mengden fills in for the injured A.J. Puk. Getting production from the back end of the rotation is of great benefit, though Bassitt gave an ‘atta boy’ to the bullpen. The relief corps threw five shutout innings after Bassitt and have now thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings.

“I don’t think they could’ve been better,” Bassitt said. “I think that every single guy we’ve thrown out there has been nails. That’s important because the starters aren’t built up to where they need to be. …To have every bullpen arm firing on all cylinders is impressive and shows what’s in store for the future once the starters go longer into games and give these guys a bit of a break.

"Having such quality arms in the ‘pen down the stretch is going to be insanely valuable for us.”

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart had one of the most intimidating stare-downs in MLB history. When the A's pitcher turned NBC Sports California analyst gave you that look, it was game over. 

Stewart once again brought the heat Monday night on A's Postgame Live after Oakland's 11-1 blowout win over the Mariners. Everyone loves a good dig at the Astros, and Stewart didn't hold back. 

"He's solid, he is a solid player," Stewart said of A's outfielder Ramon Laureano. "How the A's got this guy is unbelievable. And what it took to get is unbelievable in Houston. Houston, thanks once again you cheaters."

The Houston Astros selected Laureano in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Just three years later, Houston traded the outfielder to Oakland in November 2017 for pitcher Brandon Bailey. 

Laureano, 26, made his MLB debut the next season in 2018 and has been an integral player for the A's ever since. He hit .288 with five homers in seven stolen bases over just 48 games two seasons ago, and followed that up last year with another .288 season but this time added 24 long balls and swiped 13 bags. The center fielder is hitting .324 with two home runs and nine RBI through 10 games this season. 

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning vs. Mariners not as rare as expected]

Bailey, 25, made his big league debut this season for Houston out of the bullpen.

The center fielder has one of the best arms in baseball, can knock the ball over the fence and steal a base for extra credit. This was one of the A's best trades in recent memory, and Stewart will remind the Astros as much as he can.

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Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis connected for his first home run of the season in the A’s 11-1 thumping of the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

It was a shot to left centerfield, into the A's bullpen filled with teammates. 

As he rounded the bases, the bullpen stood up and cheered for him. Starter Frankie Montas, in the dugout, looked more excited than Davis was.

“He needed that, you know?” Montas told reporters after the game. “Just for him to be able to have that day today -- it was huge for him.”

Davis had a stellar 2018 season hitting 48 homers, the most in the league that year. He followed that with a tough 2019 and even rougher beginning of the 2020 season. 

This was well-needed.

“All the way around, really good at-bats,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He felt good today, and you could tell he looked comfortable in the box today so it’s a good start. We’ll see where we go from here, but obviously we know this guy is one of the bigger bats that we’ve had in this organization.”

Davis also showed discipline at the plate with a nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning during an eight-run outburst for the A’s. He ended up walking after fouling off four pitches. That at-bat was what led outfielder Stephen Piscotty to believe something was about to happen. Well that, and the fact that Davis made a prediction before the game.

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning on two outs, not a rare feat]

“He looked great today,” Piscotty said. “It was funny -- in BP, he said he was going to go off, and he sure did.”

“We’ve been seeing it,” Piscotty said. “He’s been working really hard and putting the time in and it was nice to see it pay off.”

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