Ramon Laureano with the clutch homer!
On an evening in which Shohei Ohtani started on the mound as his team’s pitcher and tossed six scoreless innings, while also batting second in their lineup and ripping a double to the wall, the show was stolen by Cole Irvin.
The Oakland A’s lefty out-dueled his All-Star counterpart, tossing seven scoreless frames en route to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum. The go-ahead runs came in the 7th inning, immediately after Ohtani was lifted for a reliever, while Irvin stuck around long enough to earn the win.
The first six inning were silent. The A’s got just three hits off Ohtani, and one of those was a lucky bloop double. The bloop helped them get their only runner to third base, and with just one out on the board, but he was stranded when a high-contact hitter struck out (Andrus) and a flyball hitter grounded out (Olson).
- Ohtani: 6 ip, 0 runs, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits, 96 pitches, 82.4 mph EV
Meanwhile, the Angels were equally hapless against Irvin. Well, obviously David Fletcher reached base three times, as per the bylaws of the MLB rulebook when he faces Oakland, but the Halos couldn’t build on it.
- Irvin: 7+ ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 7 hits, 84 pitches, 89.9 mph EV
They got close in the 3rd inning, when Fletcher singled and Ohtani drilled a double to the wall in center field. But Ramon Laureano hustled and got the ball in to his cutoff man extremely quickly, and shortstop Elvis Andrus delivered a perfect relay throw home to nab Fletcher at the plate, with catcher Sean Murphy capping it off with an astute block and tag for the out.
Having already failed to score the run, the Angels made matters worse by challenging the call. I’m not sure what they were hoping for, as the the play itself wasn’t remotely close, and Murphy had the ball so far in advance of the runner that there’s no precedent for calling that he was unfairly in the running lane. This was a complete waste of a challenge, and it came back to bite the Halos two innings later — in the 5th, the umps did miss a call at first base that would have been easily overturned, but L.A. could no longer ask for a review due to their managerial error.
In the end, Ohtani’s line turned out slightly better in terms of dominance, with more strikeouts and fewer hits and weaker contact. But Irvin was more efficient in earning his zeroes, and that allowed him to work one inning longer and thus ask for one fewer inning from his bullpen. That longevity made the difference, and it’s why he won the duel.
The Angels called on reliever Steve Cishek in the 7th, and Oakland pounced immediately. Cishek was all over the place and walked his first two batters, and with a prime opportunity in front of him, Laureano delivered again. Cishek laid a meatball up in the zone, and Laser blasted it for a three-run homer.
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) July 20, 2021