ATHLETICS 3 – RED SOX 2
Tonight was a night of missed opportunities for both squads. Pitchers got themselves into tight jams and managed to weasel their way out with no harm done. The A’s had their first crack at a visibly shaky Jon Lester in the bottom of the first, rattling his cage with a leadoff home run off the bat of Coco Crisp. Another former Red Sox player had gotten revenge on his former team. The A’s though had a change to put a crooked number on the board, but had to settle for a single run and a high pitch inning for Lester. The returning Bartolo Colon surrendered the tying run in the next half inning on a solo homer by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Sox took the lead when Chris Carter let a Salty grounder play him, allowing David Ortiz to score the go ahead run. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the 9th inning. But the 8th inning wasn’t without its own drama. Jim Miller had a terrible time trying to find the strike zone as he came in to start the inning, walking the first two batters of the inning, he exited the game after striking out Cody Ross. Jerry Blevins came in to put out the fire and did so with a nasty slider to Saltalamacchia that caught him looking. The A’s then had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the inning, but Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes both struck out with the bases loaded after Vicente Padilla got himself into major trouble. The two of them seemed over anxious and as if they were trying to take Padilla deep at all costs, and he seemed to almost toy with them at that point.
TURNING POINT: The top of the 9th looked from the outset as if the Red Sox were riding a wave of momentum after the A’s failure in the previous inning, and they seemed poised to add some crucial insurance runs. But with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out, Nick Punto came to the plate looking to sacrifice both runners into scoring position. But Chris Carter, who’s critical error could have cost the A’s the game today made a spectacular diving catch on a bunt that caught just a little bit too much air and doubled off Mike Aviles at 1st base. Suddenly the momentum was leaning back towards Oakland. Now with 2 out and Ryan Kalish at 2nd, Kurt Suzuki threw out Kalish attempting to steal 3rd base for some reason for the 3rd out, sending the A’s to the bottom of the 9th down by 1. Chris Carter led off with a base hit, Cliff Pennington dunked a single to left, and pinch hitter Brandon Moss nearly decapitated Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves to drive in Carter to tie the game. Pennington advanced to 3rd base when Ryan Kalish bobbled the ball in centerfield, setting up the chance for Coco to put his exclamation point on this game. All Coco had to do was put the ball in play and the A’s would have their W, and he did just that with a sacrifice fly to drive in Pennington for the victory.
ON THE HILL: Bartolo Colon didn’t have his dominant stuff tonight, but he was very impressive nonetheless in his return from the oblique injury. He pitched 6 solid innings, allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and a walk with 3 strikeouts. Jordan Norberto pitched a scoreless 7th inning, allowing just 1 hit with a strikeout. Jim Miller clearly didn’t have it, he retired just 1 batter on a strikeout and walked the other 2 batters he faced. Jerry Blevins pitched 1.2 innings while allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk, with a strikeout as well.
AT THE PLATE: Today was the Coco and Carter show at the plate. Coco Crisp carried the team with his leadoff home run and his walk off sac fly, the last guy who did that was some dude named Rickey Henderson. Chris Carter though continued to show he’s turned a corner in his career with two more solid singles, he certainly redeemed himself tonight after the potentially devastating error that cost the A’s a run. No one else in the starting lineup really made an impact tonight, but Brandon Moss delivered in a clutch moment with his pinch hit RBI single in the 9th.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The A’s have now taken the first two out of three against the supposedly mighty Boston Red Sox, they have successfully defended their house. Tomorrow they have a chance to tell Bobby V and that supposed Red Sox Nation to take their Sawx back to Bawston. The A’s took a step forward in their development as a team with the designation of Brian Fuentes for assignment, it seemed “Tito” was well regarded in the A’s clubhouse and many were sad to see him go based on various tweets from this afternoon after news broke. But the facts are the facts, Fuentes wasn’t getting the job done and his welcome was worn out in the A’s bullpen. I will always have a tiny little soft spot for him because I as do many A’s fans feel he was at least partly responsible for helping rid our lives of Bob Geren. That is something to be eternally grateful for. The A’s go for the sweep tomorrow with the thus far very impressive rookie AJ Griffin who is still looking for his first win in the Major Leagues and has a 1.50 ERA in his first two starts. The Red Sox were originally going to start Franklin Morales, but Aaron Cook will now take the hill with a 2-1 record and a 4.32 ERA. Cook shutout the Mariners on a 2 hitter in his last outing, so the A’s need to see that Cook’s career renaissance takes a day off for the holiday.
On behalf of myself and everyone at Swingin’ A’s I want to wish everyone out there a very happy, fun, and safe 4th of July. Hopefully the A’s can provide us a little extra fireworks to send us to our BBQ’s happy.