BY STEVEN LUKE
Making his 2018 season debut in the Majors, Frankie Montas held the Arizona Diamondbacks hitless through five innings and gave up only one run through six with seven strikeouts leading the Oakland Athletics to a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon. The win also gave the A’s the series win and evened the current home stand record after six games.
It was Montas’ first start in the Green and Gold and came against former Cy Young award winner Zach Greinke. Montas came over to the A’s in a midseason trade for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill during the 2016 season. Montas pitched 23 games out of the bullpen in 2017, but lack of good secondary pitches led to an inflated 7.03 ERA.
Montas has spent the last year since he was sent down working on his secondary pitches like his slider and change up. “To face big league hitters you have to throw your secondary stuff and sometimes you have to throw it when you’re behind in the count,” Bob Melvin said. “It’s probably as good of a pitch mix from him since we’ve seen him.”
The secondary pitches weren’t the only change Montas made. He said something else he worked on was a hesitation in his wind up and a quick pitch that he also worked on over the same time to keep the hitters off balance. “It’s something I worked on last year down in AAA,” Montas said through team interpreter Juan Dorado. He continued working on it this year and at least on Sunday it helped.
Montas wasn’t the only successful pitcher Sunday. The bullpen continued to be strong as Yusmiero Petit, Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen combined for three scoreless innings to shut down Arizona and secure the game. This is nothing new as Trivino and Treinen have been the two best relievers in the A’s pen this year and Petit has been the most called upon. Trivino and Trienen are quickly becoming a scary duo for opposing teams of the A’s and catcher Johnathon Lucroy would not want to face them.
“Train (Treinen) and Trivino, their stuff is some of the best I’ve seen out of the bullpen, especially the backend,” Lucroy said. “I’ll tell you as a hitter I wouldn’t want to be in the box against them. We’ve got good arms up there and the majority of the time they’re gonna shut lineups down.”
The only offense for the D-Backs came in the final inning Montas pitched as they used three singles to score a run. Greinke made one mistake, a home run to former teammate Lucroy, and also gave up a run in his final inning before the D-Backs bullpen came on.
Lucroy’s home run, his first as a member of the A’s, was the fifth solo home run of the series. That was the only way the A’s would score this series until getting to Greinke in the sixth with a base hit by Matt Chapman following walks by Matt Olson and Chad Pinder. That was something the team needed going against a guy who doesn’t allow a lot of home runs. “You can’t rely on the homer all the time, especially against really good pitching, that’s what we saw today,” Melvin said.
Game Notes :
Chapman came into the game riding a career long 0-17 hitless streak. He broke that in his first at bat and ended the game with two hits on the day.
Treinen is 9-9 in save opportunities in May and is one save away from tying Dennis Eckersley’s record for saves in the month of 10.
Greinke allowed three walks for the first time this season.
Paul Blackburn threw four innings in extended Spring Training yesterday and will soon go out for a rehab assignment, but no date is official.
Khris Davis hit in BP before the game while recovering from a groin injury suffered last weekend.