Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Game of the Day (6/10/14)

Angels 2, A's 1 (14). Oakland's Drew Pomeranz and LA's Hector Santiago are both young lefties who are new to their teams this year. Santiago has disappointed slightly in comparison to his prior performance; Pomeranz, meanwhile, has been thoroughly marvelous while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen.

Both starters were unassailable in the early going; Derek Norris's second-inning single made him the only baserunner in the first two and a half innings. The Angels mounted a rally in the bottom of the third, as Collin Cowgill singled and Hank Conger and Mike Trout walked to load the bases, but Pomeranz retired Albert Pujols to end the inning. Josh Hamilton singled and stole second in the bottom of the fourth before being stranded; Norris singled again in the fifth, but was picked off. Craig Gentry singled and stole second in the sixth and watched Jed Lowrie walk behind him before both men were stranded.

The game's first run finally crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth when Trout walked, Pujols reached on a Donaldson error that put the runners at second and third, and Hamilton singled. Trout scored on the play, but Pujols was thrown out at home to mitigate the damage, and Pomeranz then coaxed a double play ball from David Freese to end the inning.

Kevin Jepsen relieved Santiago in the top of the seventh and allowed a pair of baserunners; Brandon Moss walked and Coco Crisp singled before both men were left on. Pomeranz worked around an Erick Aybar single in the bottom of the inning, and Oakland evened the score against Mike Morin in the eighth when Nick Punto doubled, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on Lowrie's sac fly.

LA threatened against Luke Gregerson in the bottom of the eighth. Howie Kendrick walked with one out, and Trout followed with a double; Kendrick was thrown out trying to score on the play, with Trout taking third on the throw. Pujols walked to put runners on the corners, but Hamilton grounded out to end the inning. Oakland rallied against Joe Smith in the top of the ninth when Yoenis Cespedes singled, was bunted to second and stole third; Moss struck out, Crisp was intentionally walked, and John Jaso grounded out to leave both men on. Dan Otero worked around an Aybar single to force extras.

Cam Bedrosian (yes, Steve's son) allowed a Stephen Vogt single in the tenth, then threw a perfect eleventh; Otero was spotless in the tenth, then departed after Pujols's leadoff single in the next inning, with Sean Doolittle replacing him and keeping the Angels off the board. Fernando Salas allowed a Punto single in the top of the twelfth, while Doolittle gave up a Cowgill double; both runners were stranded.

Cory Rasmus was perfect in the top of the thirteenth; Jeff Francis walked Trout, saw him bunted to second, intentionally walked Hamilton, and got a double play out of Freese in the bottom. Rasmus set the A's down 1-2-3 again in the fourteenth, and with two outs in the bottom of the inning, Cowgill went deep to end the game.

As so often happens in a thoroughly pitching-dominated game, the winner came down to which team got the lone outstanding offensive performance. With three hits, including a double and a walkoff homer, that designation is clearly awarded to Collin Cowgill, who easily established a new career high with +.481 WPA for the day. He's really having quite a remarkable third of a season so far, with his 129 OPS+ to date significantly outstripping his previous high water mark of 86. That unexpected production has helped the Angels to the AL's third-best record so far - well, that and a very good bullpen, which was obviously also on display in this game.

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