By Jerry Mcdonald
OAKLAND — The Athletics dealt the New York Mets a costly loss in a pennant race Saturday and did it against star right-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom.
The Athletics gave deGrom a harder time than he’d seen in his previous nine starts and parlayed clutch hitting and solid defense for a 10-4 win at the at the Coliseum that was likely the best all-around game they’ve played this season.
“When you’re playing a playoff team, a team you know is going to the postseason, there’s this extra little added energy,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “We’ve got 10 more games to do it.”
The Athletics improved to 56-96 before a crowd of 16,041, many of them Mets fans. New York lost a game in the standings to the Atlanta Braves, who beat Philadelphia. The Mets lead the N.L. East by 1 1/2 games with a 96-57 record.
By the time he was finished after four innings, deGrom (5-3) trailed 5-4 and surrendered season highs in hits (six), earned runs (five) and walks (four). He struck out five and threw 80 pitches, 49 for strikes, giving way to Trevor Williams to start the sixth inning.
“The plan was to be aggressive,” Kotsay said. “He’s a strike thrower, so come out swinging. Those are probably the best at-bats that we’ve taken throughout a game and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
In his previous start, deGrom become the only major league pitcher to strike out 13 batters with no walks in five innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ken Waldichuk (1-2) lasted five innings after a rough start and got his first big league win before Austin Pruitt took over. He gave up five hits and four earned runs with no walks and four strikeouts.
While the A’s were able to add on five runs against the New York bullpen after deGrom’s exit, A’s relievers Pruitt (two innings), A.J. Puk and Tyler Cyr blanked the Mets over the final four innings.
The Athletics had home runs by Seth Brown, his 24th, and Connor Capel, his second. Capel had a homer, triple and single in his last three at-bats. For the Mets, Pete Alonso hit his 38th home run of the season, with Mark Vientos getting his first career home run.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday, Capel is 7-for-14. He also had a diving catch in foul territory to record an out during a sequence where the A’s made consecutive sterling defensive plays.
“Just trying to help the pitcher out, luckily I caught it,” Capel said. “I knew it was going to be close. I tried to go as quick as I could.”
As for his hitting, Capel said, “Just wanted something to drive, go up there, compete, have a good A.B. and put the barrel on the ball. I thought we did a good job of that today.”
A two-out ground ball single up the middle by Brown in the sixth against Joely Rodriguez brought home Vimael Machin and gave the Athletics a 7-4 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, Nick Allen bounced a single to right to score Capel, who tripled to open the inning against Adam Ottavino.
Capel’s home run, his first with the A’s, gave Oakland a 6-4 lead in the fifth and came against Williams. His two-run single in the eighth against Trevor May brought in the last two insurance runs.
Vientos tied the score 4-4 in the second with his first career home run, an opposite field shot against Waldichuk, with the Athletics regaining the lead in the third on Brown’s home run to dead center field against deGrom.
The Athletics, down three runs to deGrom after the top of the first, managed put four on the board in the bottom of the inning as the Mets’ right-hander struggled with his control. Machin hit a one-out single, followed by walks to Sean Murphy and Brown.
Dermis Garcia hit a solid liner to left, with outfielder Jeff McNeil stumbling as the ball whizzed over his head for a two-run double. Garcia eventually scored on an infield grounder by Capel to tie the score 3-3. A double to left by catcher Shea Langeliers put the A’s up 4-3.
Getting his first major league win looked unlikely when Waldichuk gave up three runs in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by Lindor and Alonso’s 410-foot two-run home run to deep left.
Kotsay greeted the left-hander, acquired in the Frankie Montas trade to the Yankees, in the dugout for what he termed “a chat.”
“I just saw a different mentality out there,” Kotsay said. “I saw a different pitcher in the second through the fifth.”
Kotsay’s message? He wanted more innings.
“He came in and said, `Hey, we need five or six more out of you,’ ” Waldichuk said. “That kind of fired me up a little bit. I think from then on I was able to get the tempo going a little better and guys were hitting well so I wanted to get them back up at the plate.”
Waldichuk’s postgame display at the clubhouse basketball hoop wasn’t nearly as impressive.
“There were four shooters, Waldichuk airballed it,” Kotsay said. “Not a good first showing for him.”
Said Waldichuk: “We’re not going to talk about that.”
One of the better defensive sequences of the season came in a span of four outs in the sixth and seventh innings.
After Lindor singled, Capel made his running catch into foul territory, catching the ball a dive for the first out. The second out came when Langeliers threw a perfect strike to second to cut down Lindor attempting to steal at second. Out No. 3 was recorded when Machin at third base went well into foul territory to Eduardo Escobar, getting a celebratory greeting from left fielder Tony Kemp.
Kemp moved to second base in the seventh, and recorded the first out by ranging to the shortstop side of second base to get Darin Ruf on a ground ball.
The game ended with shortstop Nick Allen spearing a screamer that appeared headed for the outfielder with two runners aboard.
“Defensively I’d put this game up as one of the best games we’ve played all year as a team,” Kotsay said.
Source: Paradise Post