Game 71 Recap: Athletics 5 Brewers 3

Tl;dr: The Athletics pulled away in a close game as defensive miscues and poor relief work by the Brewers led to a 5-3 loss.

Top Play (WPA):
Yonder Alonso’s single to center, which scored Danny Valencia and advanced old friend Khris Davis to 3B, broke the tie and gave Oakland a 3-2 lead (.228). Both Davis and Alonso would score on the next play as Marcus Semien hit a triple to make the score 5-2.

Milwaukee held a 2-1 lead entering the 6th inning, but relievers Blaine Boyer, Will Smith, and Michael Blazek couldn’t hold the lead, allowing those 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in their 1.7 innings. Indicative of their evening, those relievers combined for one strikeout.

Bottom Play (WPA):
The worst play of the game also occurred in that fateful bottom of the 7th inning. Blazek started the inning allowing a Steven Vogt triple and Valencia reached on a Jonathan Villar error. Vogt’s triple was crushed to the deepest part of the park, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a shot at catching it, but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove. After those two hitters reached, Khris Davis did the Brewers a favor and grounded into a fielder’s choice which resulted in Vogt getting thrown out at home (-.156).

Trend to Watch:
Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson was in and out of trouble all night. He induced only 3 swings and misses, down from 6 in his disaster start in San Francisco last week. The A’s contact rate in the game was 93%, running up to 97% for pitches in the strike zone, both well above Nelson’s seasonal and career numbers. With so much contact, Athletics hitters still only swung at 43% of Nelson’s pitches, also below his season average.

Nelson’s first inning was a slog, as he needed 32 pitches to get his three outs. He gave up 2 hits and a walk, and escaped his jam with a well timed double play. This set the tone for the evening, as Nelson only pitched one clean inning, but only gave up 1 run. He stranded 87.5% of his base runnners last night, also above his season strand rate of 76.2%.

Nelson survived and gave the Brewers a chance to win, but his performance last night is not sustainable for a successful pitcher. Nelson didn’t fool batters, and he got lucky that he stranded so many runners.

Quick Hits:
It was Milwaukee’s first game in Oakland since the 2002 season. Back then, the stadium was known as Network Associates Coliseum. The Athletics won that game 8-0 as Mark Mulder pitched a shutout. Ben Sheets started for the Brewers and was chased after four innings.

Up Next: The Brewers finish their west coast trip with an afternoon game against Oakland. Junior Guerra will look to bounce back from his worst start of the season last week in Los Angeles, where he allowed 5 runs to the Dodgers in just five innings. The 5 runs were the most he’s allowed in a game all season, and he gave up a home run for the third straight start. For the A’s, Daniel Mengden makes his third career start. Last time out, he pitched 6.3 innings against Texas, allowing 2 runs ( 1 earned) and striking out 7. First pitch is 2:35.

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