Bob Melvin put down the same names on the lineup card that he did for the A’s 16-0 throttling of the Blue Jays on Wednesday for Friday night’s battle against the Baltimore Orioles, needless to say it worked. Facing their 4th straight left handed starter, the A’s sought to get back on the winning track after dropping the finale in Toronto. They started the game off with a bang, scoring 4 runs in the top of the 1st inning against Zach Britton powered by a Josh Reddick triple, his score on a wild pitch, and a 2 run home run from Chris Carter. Brandon Hicks added the 5th run with a longball in the 2nd, but Jarrod Parker had trouble making that lead stand up.
Parker had what seemed like a bizarre outing, his stuff was on point, he wasn’t walking batters, but he seemed to leave pitches up and over the plate and the Orioles weren’t missing those chances. Parker ultimately surrendered the lead, a continuing theme throughout this game, when Adam Jones lined a 3 run homer to give the O’s a 6-5 lead. The A’s would answer right back when Seth Smith, pinch hitting for Jonny Gomes, cleared the bases with a 3 run double to give the A’s the lead back.
Grant Balfour got into almost instant trouble in the 7th inning by issuing 1 out walk to J.J. Hardy, and then moving him to second on a wild pitch. Two more walks would be handed out before Balfour was relieved by Sean Doolittle who was able to get the final out to bail out Balfour. The bottom of the 8th was all Sean Doolittle’s to take care of, but he couldn’t get the job done when a walk and a single prompted Bob Melvin to bring in closer Ryan Cook for the 4 out save. Cook gave up 2 singles to tie the game, hit Adam Jones with a pitch, allowed another single to put Baltimore ahead, and was saved by Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Inge and Derek Norris who were able to keep Jim Thome from scoring by nailing him at the plate.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson came in to lock down the save in the 9th and looked to be on his way by retiring Yoenis Cespedes. But Chris Carter and Brandon Inge singled, and Derek Norris wasted little time tying the game once again with an RBI single. Jemile Weeks gave the A’s the lead again with a well placed single down the left field line, and Coco Crisp gave the A’s a cushion with a 2 run single of his own. Then today’s star Seth Smith hammered the final nail in the coffin by smoking a double off the right field wall to put the A’s up 14-9.
Jerry Blevins would allow a couple singles in the bottom of the 9th inning, but managed to shut the door on the Orioles. A scorer’s decision gave him the win because of Cook’s poor outing. Josh Reddick made a very impressive but also very painful catch to end the game as he slammed his back into the wall in right field as he jumped for the ball. Reddick did stay down for a couple minutes, as the A’s and their fans collectively held their breath fearing the worst. But as he was helped onto a cart to be taken off the field he smiled and acknowledged some well wishers in the stands. It appears that the only damage done was some regular bumps and bruises and he’ll be evaluated on a day to day basis. A’s fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief on that one.
The A’s bandwagon can now continue boarding after the loss in Toronto on Thursday, the A’s are back in the win column at 54-45. They are now 17-3 in the month of July, and their recent run has them just 4.5 games behind the mighty Texas Rangers. They remained 1/2 game behind the Los Angeles Angels who beat the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. They do though have a 1.5 game cushion in the wildcard races in the American League. Bartolo Colon (6-8, 3.97 ERA) takes on Tommy Hunter (4-5, 5.57 ERA) in a matchup of linebacker size starting pitchers. The A’s have been swinging the bats very impressively lately, and specifically this week with 41 runs scored in 4 games. I heard an interview with Bob Melvin on ESPN Radio this morning where the interviewer asked Melvin how the A’s were winning games considering they were “in the basement” in hitting. This was ridiculous on two fronts, obviously they’re looking at season long numbers which certainly don’t tell the whole story, and most likely they were using batting average as the one barometer for evaluating the offense. This is fine by me, the A’s are still flying under the radar and being underestimated. People still are not convinced that this team is going to be for real. I’m here to tell you all that they are because they believe they are, they know they are. We might experience some wild games like tonight, but rest assured it’ll never be boring.