Bartolo, Bats Secure Moneyball-esque Victory
By Sean Davis
In a game that very nearly, and eerily mirrored the 20th game of the remarkable 20 game win streak that was being celebrated today as the A’s took a big 8-1 lead, and almost saw it evaporate before their very eyes as the Indians rallied late. Thankfully though it didn’t get to the point where the A’s needed an incredibly dramatic and memorable walk off home run. You never want to have a 7 run lead and have to bring in your closer to put out a 9th inning fire, but when it gets to crunch time you’ve got to do what it takes to win.
The A’s bats showed they had awakened for the second night in a row as Indians starter Corey Kluber struggled and so did his defense in the 3rd inning as the A’s opened it up.
TURNING POINT: The inning started off as Cliff Pennington reached on a throwing error by Asdrubal Cabrera and things began to snowball after that. Jemile Weeks bunted Pennington over to second base, and Coco Crisp occupied first after a walk. A little more NL style play emerged as Pennington and Crisp double stole to take 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Josh Donaldson, who so far appears to be a drastically different person than the Josh Donaldson we all saw during the first part of 2012. Donaldson didn’t come through with a basehit here, but he did put the ball in play to enable to the A’s to score their first run of the night. Josh Reddick, who has been slumping badly over the last few weeks while also battling dental issues that have kept him from the lineup at times smoked a ball into left center to score Crisp and keep the wheels turning. Then the man who makes everyone stop and watch when he steps to the plate Yoenis Cespedes put the exclamation point on the inning with a 2 run home run. The A’s would add on, and would end up needing those extra runs as the Indians would fight back to make it interesting before the A’s shut them down 8-5.
ON THE HILL: Tonight’s game was all about the 39 year old Bartolo Colon, he was excellent tonight in his 8 innings of work, his only blemish coming on a home run from Carlos Santana, earning his 10th win of the season. He allowed just 5 hits, the 1 ER, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out 3. Evan Scribner came in on mop up duty and pretty much dumped the bucket all over the floor as Shin Soo Choo hit a 2 run homer before an out was recorded, and Scribner was charged with another run after he had left the game having pitched 2/3 of an inning. Jerry Blevins gave up 2 hits of his own, including a pinch hit home run to Brent Lillibridge and didn’t retire a single batter. Grant Balfour was called upon to clean up the mess and did so by striking out Ezequiel Carrera to end the game and tally his 11th save of the season.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s bats had taken a bit of a siesta over the last week or so, but they are fully awake and have had their first cups of coffee now. They only had 9 hits total but made the most of them for their 8 runs. The charge was led by Yoenis Cespedes who went 2-4 with a home run and an RBI single for 3 RBI total. Josh Donaldson was the only other Athletic with a multi hit game as he went 2-5 with an RBI on his grounder in the 3rd, it may not mean much but his AVG now sits at .205 instead of the .153 he brought back to Oakland 5 games ago. Coco Crisp drove in 2 with his 8th inning double for his 1-4 night, he also stole his 26th base of the year. Josh Reddick, Chris Carter, Brandon Moss, and George Kottaras each had single hits tonight.
FINAL THOUGHTS: After a rough beginning to the month of August the A’s may have straightened things out a bit with these 3 straight wins against the bottom of the AL Central. With the Rangers’ victory the A’s keep pace and remain 5 games behind them in the AL West, the Angels blew an 8-0 lead and lost 10-8 against the Rays so they’re 3 games behind the A’s now. In the wild card race the A’s are now just 1/2 game behind the Baltimore Orioles who beat the Detroit Tigers tonight. The A’s can sweep the Indians tomorrow as Jarrod Parker (7-7, 3.71 ERA) takes the mound, looking to right his ship against Justin Masterson (9-10, 4.50 ERA). Masterson has some simply nasty stuff and can be dominant, so the A’s will need to attack him early and often before he gets settled in.