Having already recorded walk-off and walk-in wins within the first three games of the season, the Oakland Athletics will be looking for a more conventional victory when they go for a series win against the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Monday afternoon.
In a season in which fans were warned that anything could happen, the A’s won on opening night with a game-ending grand slam by Matt Olson, then took a lead they never relinquished Sunday when Angels starter Shohei Ohtani walked three straight batters after a game-opening single in a five-run first inning. The 2018 American League Rookie of the Year never recorded an out.
In between, the Angels got a powerful pitching performance from Dylan Bundy in his debut with the team in a 4-1 victory Saturday.
Seeking to duplicate that effort will be right-hander Griffin Canning (5-6, 4.58 ERA in 2019).
Despite being in just his second season, the 24-year-old already is quite familiar with the A’s. He faced them three times in 2019, going 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA over 18 innings.
The win came in his only previous start in Oakland, when he limited the A’s to one run on three hits over six innings in a 12-7 victory last May.
Canning would not have been pitching in the opening series had the season started on schedule in March. He injured his right elbow in spring training and received a platelet-rich plasma injection.
The four-month break did him wonders, and he believes he’s ready to go in July, even if he finds himself reaching for something else in the dugout while others are searching for their masks.
“I’m just keeping it warm in between innings so it’s not just sitting there and tightening up,” he told reporters earlier this month of a heating sleeve he tried out in Summer Camp. “It’s just something I have to continue to manage and continue to find that routine that works for me. But it was definitely a step in the right direction finding that kind of thing that I can do between innings.”
Canning will hope for offensive support from Mike Trout, who crushed his first home run of the season, a three-run shot, on Sunday.
Canning will duel Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt (10-5, 3.81), who earned a spot in the A’s season-opening rotation when Jesus Luzardo (coronavirus) and A.J. Puk (sore shoulder) were unable to answer the bell.
The A’s gave the 31-year-old plenty of offensive support in two starts against the Angels last season, pounding out 8-5 and 12-3 victories. He got wins in both games despite allowing a total of seven runs in 10 2/3 combined innings.
Over his career, he is 2-2 with a 6.33 ERA in six games (four starts) against the Angels.
After watching a scoreless top of the 10th inning with a runner starting on second base on Friday, then five innings of two-hit, no-run relief on Sunday, A’s manager Bob Melvin was gushing about his bullpen after his team’s most recent 6-4 win.
“They’ve been fantastic,” he told reporters Sunday. “We knew that the bullpen would be very important, especially early in the year until we get our starters stretched out. They’ve been up to the task for sure.”
–Field Level Media