ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Chris Bassitt is unbeaten in his last eight starts for the Athletics, and he’s unbeaten all year away from Oakland. The veteran right-hander is seeing years of hard work and personal refinement paying off on the mound.
He also says anybody can be a better pitcher against the Los Angeles Angels when Mike Trout and Albert Pujols aren’t in their lineup.
Bassitt pitched five-hit ball into the eighth inning and Seth Brown hit a two-run homer in Oakland’s 6-2 victory over the Angels on Saturday night.
Pitching efficiently and aggressively at the Big A, Bassitt (4-2) gave up only a leadoff walk and David Fletcher’s slow-rolling single during the first seven innings. He struck out eight and got within four outs of his first career complete game, plowing through the Angels’ lineup until the eighth.
The Angels are 1-5 since Trout went down with a strained calf last Monday, and they’re 6-11 since dropping Pujols on May 6.
Facing the Halos without those two bats is “a lot easier,” according to Bassitt, who moved up to fourth in the AL with 65 strikeouts.
“Not to be rude to that lineup,” he added. “I know they’ve still got great guys in that lineup, but you take away Trout, who’s in my opinion the greatest player to play this game, and then Pujols, who’s a veteran guy who knows what he’s doing … you take out those two bats, we’re happy about that.”
Matt Olson and Aramís García hit solo homers, while Mark Canha tripled, doubled and scored two runs as the first-place A’s took the first two games and claimed the series victory over their last-place downstate rivals.
Bassitt gave up three hits and both runs in the eighth, getting chased by Shohei Ohtani’s RBI triple to center.
“He’s come a long way,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said after Bassitt’s longest start since May 2019. “Used to be that he threw a ton of pitches, worked more effectively wild at times. Now, not only does he know where it’s going, but he’s working efficiently, and he’s added some pitches to the mix that make it more unpredictable.”
Ohtani also doubled off Bassitt — giving him a major league-leading 28 extra-base hits — and drove in his team-leading 34th run of the season for Los Angeles. Ohtani also leads the majors with 104 total bases.
“He’s a world-class hitter,” Bassitt said of Ohtani. “He’s one of the very, very, very few guys in the league that is able to get completely fooled, yet beat you at the same time, which you saw the last at-bat (with the triple). It’s beyond impressive at this point, what he’s done and what he’s doing.”
The Angels have lost nine of 12, and they dropped to 19-27 with Trout’s return still weeks away — possibly after the still-distant All Star break.
“I can’t fault their work and their energy,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I see it. … Our margins for error are really minimal. The games that we’re in position to win, we’ve got to win, and the bullpen, we’ve got to continue to firm that up. It’s frustrating, no question it is.”
Patrick Sandoval (0-1) yielded four hits, two walks and two runs over five innings in another solid start for the Halos, but the A’s battered Los Angeles’ beleaguered bullpen.
Olson led off the sixth with his 11th homer, connecting off Alex Claudio. García homered leading off the seventh off Hunter Strickland, and Brown hit his seventh of the season off Junior Guerra in the eighth.
“Obviously losing is never fun, and we’re trying as hard as we can to manufacture a win however we can,” Sandoval said. “It will come together soon.”
The Angels’ season-long defensive woes hurt them again. They’ve committed a major league-worst 38 errors.
Outfielders Jose Rojas and Juan Lagares both misplayed Canha’s game-opening triple, which should have been just a double, a single or an out.
Iglesias then booted a routine grounder to short in the second inning for his 10th error, the second-most in the majors and one shy of his career high from the 2015 season in Detroit.
In the third, Rojas misplayed Canha’s easily catchable line drive to right, but wasn’t charged with an error even though the ball hit his glove.
OHTANI’S NEXT START
Ohtani is likely to make his next mound start Friday in Oakland, Maddon said. The Angels aren’t concerned about Ohtani’s velocity, which was down in his last start last Wednesday. Ohtani is “feeling great,” Maddon said.
Angels: C Max Stassi has rejoined baseball activities. He has been out since May 4 with a concussion. … Guerra was reinstated from the injured list. He had been out since May 10 with a groin injury.
Dylan Bundy (0-5, 6.02 ERA) makes the ninth start of his dismaying season for Los Angeles in the series finale against Oakland’s Sean Manaea (3-2, 4.41), who is winless in four starts since April.
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