ANAHEIM – The scoreboard would say it’s been a successful four-game series for the Oakland A’s so far, but their growing injury list would indicate otherwise.
The A’s defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 behind a superb pitching performance from veteran left-hander Brett Anderson on Saturday night, but they lost another player to injury at Angel Stadium.
Stephen Piscotty sustained a right knee sprain while sliding into second base in the sixth inning and the right fielder had to be helped off the field.
Oakland was already playing without designated hitter Khris Davis, who was hit by a pitch on the left hand in the series opener on Thursday night and hasn’t played since.
The A’s were up 3-0 with two outs in the sixth inning when Piscotty hit a line drive that fell in right center. He tried to turn it into a double and would have been safe, but his trailing leg on the slide bent awkwardly.
He rolled on his back and off the bag, putting both hands on his head as he was tagged for the final out of the inning.
Trainers and teammates rushed to his side before he was helped off by manager Bob Melvin and third baseman Matt Chapman.
The injury was initially diagnosed as a knee sprain, but an MRI will be taken, likely on Sunday.
“It was scary, but hopefully we caught a break and it’s not a tear,” Melvin said. “We’re not 100-percent sure yet.”
Piscotty has become one of the team’s most popular players since he was traded to Oakland in December of 2017, allowing him to be closer to his mother, Gretchen, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier that year and died from the disease in May of 2018.
Piscotty, who as a rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015 was knocked unconscious and hospitalized after a violent outfield collision, also had a melanoma removed from his right ear earlier this month.
“Everybody feels bad for him,” Melvin said of the latest predicament.
Out of nowhere
Anderson (8-3) turned in his best start of the season coming off his worst.
He threw 7 2/3 shutout innings on Saturday night, allowing two hits, striking out three and walking two.
Anderson set down the first 10 batters before Mike Trout walked in the third. He didn’t allow a base hit until Andrelton Simmons grounded a single up the middle to lead off the fifth.
He was still going strong when he came out for the eighth and retired the first two batters before Melvin removed him following a two-out double.
“He was unbelievable,” Melvin said. “Last time out, his (velocity) was down. There wasn’t a lot of crispness to his breaking ball. His changeup really wasn’t a competitive pitch for him. Everything that he struggled with the other day, he was on it today.”
Anderson was happy to improve over his last start, when he allowed seven runs and nine hits in three innings of an 8-2 loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
After some hard-hit outs in the early innings, he began mixing in more changeups, getting the Angels out in front on their swings.
“Got more pop-ups in the infield than I got the last two years,” he said. “I’ll take outs any way I can get them.”
Chapman belted a two-run homer in the three-run fifth inning, which broke the scoreless deadlock.
It was the 20th home run of the season for Chapman, moving him into a tie with his former high school teammate, Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, for the most home runs by a third baseman this season.
Melvin has been just as impressed with Chapman’s willingness to take a walk and set the table for those behind him.
“He doesn’t always have to be the guy that does the damage,” he said. “He can get on base for somebody else.”