The eight pitchers Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia sent to the mound trumped the complete game thrown by Oakland’s Jeff Samardzija.
The Angels, who own the best record in the majors, set a franchise mark for pitchers used in a nine-inning game on Saturday night while posting a 2-0 victory that increased their AL West lead over the Athletics to four games.
"If you stick around baseball long enough, you’ll see things you haven’t seen before — and tonight was a case in point," reliever Jason Grilli said. "This team draws upon a lot of our strengths, and tonight our bullpen did what was asked and expected of us. They have a lot of confidence in us down there, and it played out the way we had hoped."
Each of the final five Angels pitchers worked one inning, ranging from Fernando Salas’ 11-pitch fifth to Grilli’s 18-pitch sixth.
"It’s kind of like going back to spring training scenarios, where when you’re getting ready for the season," Grilli said. "Hitters don’t like it because they’re constantly trying to figure things out. And by the time they finally get an idea of what they want to do for their approach, it’s changing all the time."
Cory Rasmus made his first major-league start in place of Garrett Richards, out for the season because of a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. The 26-year-old right-hander threw 49 pitches over three innings — matching his longest stint in 43 relief appearances over two big-league seasons — and allowed one hit while striking out six and walking none.
"Cory got us off on a great foot," Scioscia said. "It wasn’t quite mapped out like that, but I think the way the little twists and turns of the game took us — and especially getting a lead — we were lined up to use a lot of pitchers and get some of our bullpen into the game earlier."
Michael Roth, recalled from Double-A Arkansas earlier in the day, relieved Rasmus and found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. He was replaced by Yoslan Herrera (1-1) after Jonny Gomes was sent up to pinch hit for Josh Reddick, and Gomes grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"We’re trying to take our best shot at that time, and they’re trying to match up, obviously," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, whose team has gone 22 innings without a run. "They did a great job with it and we didn’t come through. Other than Roth, we’ve seen all those guys. I mean, we knew it would be a bullpen day for them, and they handled it well."
Herrera made only four pitches while helping the Angels win their fifth in a row and go a season-best 29 games over .500 (82-53). Huston Street got three outs for his 11th save with the Angels and 35th overall this season, reducing their bullpen ERA to 3.31.
The four-game deficit is the largest for the A’s this season. They led the division by four games on Aug. 9 before going on their current 6-13 slide. Their only hits were infield singles by Josh Donaldson in the first and fourth, and a single by Sam Fuld in the ninth.
Samardzija (4-4) allowed four hits and no walks while striking out nine. The only other time he faced the Angels in the regular season was July 10, 2013, when he gave up nine runs in 4 2/3 innings and four homers — two by Josh Hamilton — in a 13-2 loss at Wrigley Field.
Erick Aybar, who had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, opened the scoring in the fourth with an RBI single. Moments later, Howie Kendrick scored on Samardzija’s 10th wild pitch of the season with David Freese at the plate.
Athletics: Center fielder and switch-hitting leadoff man Coco Crisp did not play because of neck stiffness, the result of a play he made trying to rob Chris Iannetta of a two-run homer on Friday night. The A’s have seven players on the disabled list.
Athletics: Scott Kazmir (14-6, 3.08 ERA) is enjoying the best season of his 10-year career, despite giving up seven runs over three innings in a 9-4 loss to Jeff Weaver in Oakland last Sunday. The former Angels lefty has leveled off somewhat, going 3-3 with a 5.09 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. He was 11-3 with a 2.38 ERA in his first 19 outings.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (13-4, 3.33) will attempt to tie the franchise rookie record for victories, shared by Dean Chance (1962), Marcelino Lopez (1965) and Frank Tanana (1974). The bearded right-hander, who began the season in the bullpen, will be making his first start against the A’s after winning four in a row.