The Oakland Athletics were in a need of a strong starting-pitching performance that could give an overworked bullpen some rest.
Jesus Luzardo gave his team just that on Wednesday night, and he helped put an end to a brief two-game losing streak for the American League West leaders. He shut out the surging Arizona Diamondbacks for 6 1/3 innings in Oakland, leading the A’s to a 4-1 win.
The A’s look to split a four-game, home-and-home series with the D-backs on Thursday night at the Coliseum.
Prior to Luzardo’s performance, the A’s had allowed 50 runs (49 earned) in the previous eight games for 6.36 ERA. Starting pitchers were 2-2 with a 9.45 ERA on the team’s recent road trip.
The innings were critical. A’s starters lasted fewer than five innings four times on the eight-game road trip that ended Tuesday, and six innings or fewer in all eight games.
While the rotation has sputtered, Oakland has received offensive support from switch-hitting outfielder Robbie Grossman, who in 65 at-bats has a .292 average with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Grossman knocked in two runs with a ground-rule double on Wednesday.
“With the amount of at-bats that he has right now, this might be his best start,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s got a little bit more juice this year, too, with staying back and using his legs a little bit more. It’s a really good spot for him there in the lineup to be able to drive in some runs, which in the past has really not been his role.”
Ten of the Athletics’ 17 wins have come at home, where they will be for four more games before finishing August on the road.
“It’s just more the routine at home,” Melvin said. “We feel, at least to start the season, pretty comfortable here.”
The Diamondbacks’ sizzling offense fizzled on Wednesday, managing only a ninth-inning run and six hits. Arizona’s season-best, six-game winning streak ended, but manager Torey Lovullo accepted it.
“This team’s in a good spot,” Lovullo said. “Once again, we have not been playing our best baseball, but we’ve been managing to win baseball games. This team has a couple of really nice features about them. One, that they believe in one another and they’re going to fight together, and I think the second one is they’re resilient and tough.”
The D-backs are without one of their most often used relievers, left-hander Andrew Chafin, who is sidelined due to a sprained finger. Chafin was placed on the 10-day injury list before Wednesday’s game, and left-hander Matt Grace was brought up from the team’s alternate training site.
“We have to be mindful of what these guys are going through every single day, and we’re going to obviously get (Chafin) evaluated. He’s an important piece to us,” Lovullo said.
Oakland’s Thursday starter will be left-hander Sean Manaea, who has lasted five innings in an outing just once this season. Manaea (0-2, 7.65 ERA) had his best appearance in his most recent start, when he gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in five innings against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
In his lone career appearance against the Diamondbacks, Manaea took a loss in 2018 when he gave up six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Arizona turns to Alex Young, who has replaced injured ace Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. Young (1-0, 3.86 ERA) had been used out of the bullpen until making his first start in his most recent outing. He allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings Saturday in a no-decision against the San Diego Padres.
Young will be facing Oakland for the first time in his career.
–Field Level Media