OAKLAND – The eighth inning didn’t go exactly the way Ryan Madson wanted in Monday’s opener against the Angels.
For one thing, he was matched up against Mike Trout, and the defending American League Most Valuable Player is not the kind of hitter any pitcher wants to face in a one-run game in late innings.
Or, as Madson put it, “That’s not a matchup you’d ever volunteer for,” Madson said.
Trout won the battle with an opposite field double. Madson won the war, getting C.J. Cron to ground out after a no-pitch intentional walk to Albert Pujols.
And the A’s won the game, 4-2, when Khris Davis expanded the lead with his second homer in the bottom of the eighth, setting up Santiago Casilla’s first save with the A’s.
It was a big game for the bullpen as a whole, with Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle, Madson and Casilla combining to get nine outs to preserve a win.
“Look at all we’ve got going through the seventh, eighth and ninth,” Madson said talking about a bullpen that is deep enough that John Axford and Liam Hendriks weren’t needed. “We want to be able to shorten the game for the starting pitchers.”
There was thought that Madson would be the closer, but for now at least, manager Bob Melvin said he would go with matchups, and he like the matchup Monday of Madson manor-a-manor on Trout with Casilla finishing up.
“I’ve been pitching in the bullpen long enough to know that anything can happen,” Madson said. “I know you have to be ready, and I will be. I’m always expecting to pitch. I like the challenge.”
And he said he like his first taste of the no-pitch intentional walk, introduced to the Major Leagues this year by a rules change from the front office types in New York.
“I liked it,” Madson said. “When you throw softer pitches, it throws you off a bit, because the first pitch to the next hitter is not always the best.”
Cron grounded out on the third pitch, and from there Casilla was able to take it home.