Chris Bassitt’s Heroics Save a Tired A’s Bullpen in Win Over Astros

021517 chance the dog
Ben Ross

OAKLAND -- After the first inning, Chris Bassitt seemed unlikely to get through five frames, let alone six. Sure, the A's right-hander didn't give up any runs, but he had to make 31 pitches to retire the side.

By the end of the third inning, Bassitt had thrown 69 pitches and surrendered two runs on six hits. With an exhausted bullpen that had thrown seven innings on Friday night, Oakland manager Bob Melvin was probably just hoping he could get his starter through four or five.

But Bassitt battled. He pitched a scoreless fourth inning, then gave up a run in the fifth, but got through the inning at 106 pitches with a 5-3 lead. His day had to be done, right? There was no way he could go out for the sixth.

Bassitt had other ideas: "The only conversation was, 'Are you good?' And the answer was, 'Yeah.' That was it. Our bullpen's gassed. I couldn't look at the guys and be like, 'Hey, I was tired.' Well, I mean, every one of those guys down there is dead tired. I was fine to throw the sixth and that's what I did."

Bassitt gave up a leadoff single in the sixth to Yuli Gurriel but induced a crucial double play off the bat of Martin Maldonado. Then on his career-high 116th pitch of the game, Bassitt got Jake Marisnick to pop out, ending the inning.

"He competes really hard," Melvin said. "He was struggling with his command all game and fighting himself a little bit out there. But I felt pretty good about how he threw the ball in the fifth. I was willing to go to 120 [pitches] if we had to. But he was able to do it in under 120."

Bassitt ended up allowing just three runs on eight hits and two walks, with four strikeouts, as the A's beat the Astros for the third straight day, 8-4. That is certainly no small feat.

"One through nine, it's just a headache," Bassitt said of Houston's powerful lineup. "It really is. Their nine-hole is [Jake] Marisnick and he can put it out anytime. And if it's not Marisnick, it's [Josh] Reddick. One through nine, it's a grind."

As Melvin noted, Bassitt didn't have his best stuff and struggled with his command throughout the afternoon. His curveball was electric, however -- he only threw it 13 times, but it resulted in three of his four strikeouts, as well as a pop out.

"I was just up (in the zone) all day long," Bassitt said of his command. "I wasn't able to locate my fastball down at all and it kind of played into having the curveball be a good pitch for me."

"That's kind of part of who he is," Melvin added. "He needs that pitch. It's a real slow pitch. After his fastball, when he has good velocity, that's a tough one to stay with. ... It's tough to track. It's got good break to it. It's a big part of his arsenal."

[RELATED: A's hope Puk, Diekman can steady bullpen in playoff push]

Entering this season, Bassitt had only won four games in his entire career. The 30-year-old has more than doubled that this year, now 9-5 with a 3.61 ERA.

"It's more so just the organization trusting me," Bassitt said. "The more and more they're trusting me this year, the better I'm getting."

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