For the bulk of Saturday’s game in Oakland, Dylan Bundy was cruising, and he walked off the mound with a four-run lead. But as the A’s started to chip away, thoughts of Friday night’s loss — in which the Angels coughed up an eighth-inning lead — crept in.
Ty Buttrey, who surrendered that lead Friday night with a pair of extra-base hits allowed, was right back out there in the eighth inning on Saturday, and gave up singles to his first two batters faced.
He then got a double play ball, even if it wasn’t turned conventionally.
This was not like the spectacular, shift-addled double play that Andrelton Simmons and Tommy La Stella turned in Tuesday’s exhibition game. This one was a ground ball to the normally sure-handed Simmons that he bobbled at first.
“I made it a little harder than it should have been,” Simmons said after the game. “Then Tommy did a great job right there to take the hit and turn a double play. I thanked him for picking me up right there.”
When Simmons recovered and threw to second, La Stella didn’t have much time to turn it, but he somehow did, retiring Matt Chapman at first base to neuter Oakland’s rally.
The A’s didn’t score again.
La Stella’s turn of the double play reminded manager Joe Maddon of a former star athlete who spent the bulk of his career playing in the same stadium.
“I said Dave Casper over the middle, Biletnikoff on a little slant. That quick little dart-like release, I told him he was Kenny Stabler. Normally I’d go with Namath or Marino, but there was a left-handed vibe to it,” Maddon said via conference call after the game. “Tremendous release, he stood in there, took his licks, took the hit. It was a big, big play in this afternoon’s game.”
Shohei Ohtani returns to a major league mound for the first time in over two years on Sunday in the third game of the series against Mike Fiers for the A’s (1:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, MLB Network).