October baseball is right around the corner, and the A's have gotten hot at just the right time.
Winners of five straight games, a fantastic performance from starting pitcher Frankie Montas (7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks) Sunday afternoon helped propel Oakland past the Los Angeles Angels and star Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium.
By completing a three-game sweep of the Angels, the A's current winning streak has them just two games back from the American League's second wild-card spot.
Despite four walks, Montas was able to work very efficiently through seven innings, allowing just one hit.
“His pitch count was way under control for the eighth," Melvin told reporters after the game. "He was tired though. There’s certain games where it just takes a little bit more out of you. I think his legs started to go more than his arm did. “When you go up against Ohtani you know that you have to be really good, and he was. He matched him all the way until both of them were out of the game, and out-pitched him really. Another fantastic outing from Frankie.”
With how efficiently he had pitched, why didn't Montas go back out for the eighth?
“There’s certain games where guys are just a little run-down, and he was at that point," Melvin said. "You pitch seven innings in a game that's one, two-to-nothing the whole way, it’s every pitch that means something and there’s certain games where you’re a little more gassed than others.”
Ohtani (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BBs, 10 Ks) was excellent as well. The two-way star has consistently been one of the biggest threats at the plate, and consistently one of the better arms on the mound this season.
“He did really good, he’s a really good pitcher, really good player," Montas said of Ohtani after the game. "I feel like his splitter was working today. Not just him, but me too. I feel like that was a good battle.”
“We saw some pitches early today," Catcher Yan Gomes said of Ohtani's performance Sunday. "Then I don't think many of us saw many more. I think we were trying to be pretty aggressive on him. I think he started to establish some pitches and we took advantage of it. After that, it goes to show you why he’s an MVP candidate. He’s probably got one of the best split-fingers I've ever seen.”
For Montas, Sunday's start was one of many quality starts throughout the second half of the season. With Chris Bassitt rumored to make his return to the mound Thursday, the A's rotation will be bolstered and ready for a late playoff push.