Oakland Athletics Take Two from the Pirates

Jace Peterson of the Oakland Athletics, who took two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates
(Photo by Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (14-50) take two games from the Pittsburgh Pirates and win their second of the last three series they have played. They took two of three from the Atlanta Braves and were swept by the Miami Marlins sandwiched between. The bats have finally started to show up, with 17 hits Wednesday, 15 hits Tuesday, and 40 over the three-game series. On top of that, they scored 24 runs in the three games, both of which are series highs on the season. Pitching did its part as well, grabbing eight out of ten shutdown inning opportunities throughout the series. The team has an off-day Thursday to travel before taking on the Milwaukee Brewers in the final three games of this nine-game road trip.

The Bats Coming Alive

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With everyone’s focus seemingly on the Nevada State Legislature, a couple of Athletics had the best offensive series of their seasons. Ryan Noda continued his quietly impressive rookie season, while Jace Peterson had a breakout series at the plate.

All eyes on the Athletics have been on Brent Rooker and Esteury Ruiz, and for good reason. Rooker led much of the majors in OPS early in the season after a hot start. His 12 home runs and 34 RBI also lead the team. Esteury Ruiz has been lighting up the basepaths this season, leading the majors in stolen bases with 29. Lesser known, he is tenth league wide in Batting Average with Runners In Scoring Position with an incredible .397 — one of the most clutch hitters in all of baseball and a weapon on base. Yet it is Ryan Noda who is leading the team in WAR and OPS+.

In Noda’s rookie season he is slashing .255/.415/.473 with seven homers and 23 RBI. His 40 walks on the season are a team high to go alone with his 149 OPS+ and 1.6 bWAR. In the series vs. the Pirates, Noda reached base 11 times. He went 6-11 with a home run, five RBI, and five runs scored.

Jace Peterson started to get hot in the series as well. His breakout game came in Game Two of the series, when he went 5-for-5 with two home runs, five RBI, and five runs scored. He followed that game up with a 2-4 performance in the finale with two more RBI. Over the course of the three games, Jace went 7-12 with two home runs, seven RBI, and four runs scored.

The Bullpen Does Its Part

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The pitching staff has been the notable thorn in the side of the Oakland Athletics this season. Finally they look to be figuring out how to slam the door shut on opposing offenses. A shutdown inning is one where a team doesn’t allow a run after scoring one themselves. For example, the A’s score two runs in the top of the second and don’t allow a run in the bottom of the second. This is incredibly important for controlling the game and building momentum. The A’s pitching was faced with 10 shutdown inning opportunities and converted eight of them.

Shintaro Fujinami has struggled in his first season in the States and has fallen from starting pitcher to roleless journeyman in only a few months. He saw some positive signs this series, tossing 1 2/3 innings in the opener, allowing one hit and zero earned runs.  Command continues to be a problem for him, as he contributed two walks as well.

Trevor May has been pitching well since returning from the IL on May 23. May allowed one hit and zero earned runs across 1 2/3 innings. There is a clear difference in May’s confidence since taking some time off to deal with his anxiety. The A’s hope he can continue to mold himself into their go-to arm while Zach Jackson is out.

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