This is what we were waiting for. The “woeful” A’s finally put some “points on the board” and managed to occupy the win column at AT&T Park. Atleast that’s how a fan donning the orange and black might describe it. I describe it as a win so sweet it almost makes me forget about the two games the A’s handed over in the two days prior. Almost. The nightmare inning struck struggling Giants ace Tim Lincecum and it knocked him out of the game. Bartolo Colon did a respectable job, not dominant by any means, but did enough to take down the Giants in their own park for the first time since 2008, a streak that had reached 11 games. A streak that lasted 11 games too long.
TURNING POINT: The aforementioned nightmare inning was the top of the 4th when the A’s finally began to capitalize on the Franchise. After Josh Reddick grounded out to lead off the inning Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson singled and Daric Barton walked (I know, shocked), Kurt Suzuki dealt the first big blow. Kurt’s single down the 3rd base line made it a 2-1 game, it could’ve been more had Joaquin Arias not gotten a glove on the ball. Then the most unlikely of clutch hits followed, the outfield’s answer to Josh Donaldson in the person of Collin Cowgill came up with the bases still loaded and managed to frisbee a ball up the middle to drive in two. The A’s had the lead now, something any honest A’s fans probably didn’t expect to see. But the signature moment was still yet to come. Bartolo Colon somehow made contact and forced out Suzuki at 3rd base, moving Cowgill up to second. The first pitch to Jemile Weeks is a curve in the dirt and it gets away from Buster Posey, as he searches desperately for the ball Cowgill is on the move, by the time Posey locates the ball Cowgill is rounding 3rd and heading for the plate where Lincecum himself is covering. Cowgill dives and torpedoes head first right into Mr. Cy Young’s grill, knocking him aside and knocking the ball loose. It was easily the most impressive base running instinct play since Jason Kendall broke for home while K-Rod lollygagged on a dropped toss back from his catcher. Momentum had been given to the Giants all weekend, and the A’s decided to take it back.
ON THE HILL: Bartolo Colon didn’t exhibit the pinpoint control he’s shown to be still capable of today, but it was good enough to get the W. He only lasted 5 innings giving up 2 ER on 6 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 7. The A’s would like to see him go deeper in games obviously, but this will have to do. Jordan Norberto continued his recent dominance with a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, his ERA is down to 2.91 and his WHIP is 0.92. Grant Balfour allowed a hit in a scoreless 7th inning, but most importantly didn’t have nearly the same problems finding the strike zone. Ryan Cook continued to dazzle with a 1-2-3 inning with 2 strikeouts. Brian Fuentes came in to close down the game and gave up a harmless 2 out single before securing the victory. After the walk-fest that was games 1 and 2, the 2 walks allowed by Bartolo and the goose egg allowed by the pen was heartily welcomed, hopefully those two games were the exception and not the rule.
AT THE PLATE: All the regular position players reached base at least once via either a base hit or a walk (Barton) and no one player had a necessarily stand out game. That is to say 1-4 with your 11th home run of the season is becoming less and less remarkable, if your name is Josh Reddick. He definitely has a power stroke going, and it has the looks of an ability that is here to stay. If it’s possible to slap a home run to dead center, that’s what Reddick did. He didn’t seem to get the ball on the barrel of the bat, but he was still able to get enough back spin for the ball to carry out, that’s impressive and not all players can do that. His case to become the first position player to represent the A’s at the All Star Game since C Ramon Hernandez in 2003 is getting stronger by the day.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s hard not to take this series personally, simply because of all the drama taking place in the board rooms of both these teams. The A’s are in a dire position no doubt, and due in large part to the generosity of the Haas family 20 years ago or so, and the fact that the Giants have taken that generosity and thrown it in the A’s faces. The tone of the rivalry between the fans has turned nasty. Where before it was all about who had the best team in the Bay Area, now it’s about the A’s fight for survival, and the Giants effort to exterminate what they see as an infestation of their territory. So while the Giants did take the series, the manner in which those games went down, and the forcefulness with which the A’s took the finale makes me feel like the A’s have the momentum when the Battle of the Bay shifts to the O.co in June.
The A’s return to normalcy for a bit and host the The Angels Angels of Anaheim. Jerome Williams, a man familiar to the Bay Area continues his return to the show and brings a 4-1 record, and a 3.86 ERA to a showdown with Mr. O.co Tommy Milone who has shown a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act in Oakland versus on the road (try 0.39 ERA at home, 7.19 on the road). It has amounted to a 5-3 record with a 4.09 ERA overall. I will be in attendance tomorrow, live tweeting witty comments and observations as the game plays out (@SeanD25). This will be game number 4 this year for yours truly, 3 of them have been Milone starts, so I’ll try to keep my telepathic connection strong with Tommy and send swing and miss thoughts A-Pu’s (Albert Pujols for those uneducated) way. Till tomorrow, LET’S GO OAKLAND!!!!