August 8, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher George Kottaras (14) follows first baseman Chris Carter (22) around the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
This win was huge. Huge because of the immense emotional toll the last couple days had taken on the team, and huge because it stopped what had the makings of a 4 game losing streak as the A’s faced Felix Hernandez tonight. In the A’s first game since the chilling injury to Brandon McCarthy Wednesday afternoon, a good measure of the character that has boosted this team throughout the season brought them another win tonight. This was a win that many within the A’s organization and fan base had deemed as one they had to “Win For McCarthy” and that they did. King Felix was not himself tonight, and the A’s made him pay dearly for it. In the surprisingly short 4.2 inning start for Felix, he allowed 11 hits to the A’s and 6 runs(5 ER). George Kottaras led the way with a huge 3 run home run in the 4th inning, it was his only hit of the night but he made it count. Josh Donaldson and Stephen Drew drove in the final runs of the night with consecutive RBI basehits in the 5th that led to Hernandez’s departure.
On the opposite end of the spectrum A.J. Griffin was not anywhere near as sharp as he was last time out against the Boston Red Sox. Griffin lasted just 5.1 innings tonight, threw 108 pitches in the process, and he allowed 6 hits, a walk, and just 1 ER. Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, and Sean Doolittle took it the rest of the way only allowing 1 hit and 2 walks in their 3.1 innings combined.
Lost in the shuffle of tonight’s scoring was the fact that Cliff Pennington went 4-4 and has raised his AVG up to .216 on the season. Certainly his play overall has left a lot to be desired, but if he can have a hot month of September it will go a long way towards propelling the A’s into the postseason for the first time in 6 years.
In keeping with the hugeness theme of this win, the Texas Rangers lost on a walk off home run from Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Baltimore Orioles came up short against the New York Yankees tonight in Baltimore. With the A’s win and those losses they have regained the top spot in the wild card race by 1/2 game over the Orioles, and move back to within 4.5 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. It’s still somewhat of a long shot for the A’s to overtake the Rangers, but keeping them in their sights can’t hurt.
As for Brandon McCarthy, Susan Slusser reported today that while he is showing progress, he’s certainly not “out of the woods.” A’s trainer used the words that I’m sure many A’s fans thought, but didn’t want to mention, “life threatening” to describe his injury. While he is in great care, the severity of the injury that he sustained may have ramifications far beyond any potential baseball career. Right now he seems to be fighting just to regain his motor skills, and quite frankly to stay alive. It’s incredibly scary to say the least, and I strongly encourage everyone to continue to keep Brandon in your thoughts.
Tonight the A’s won 1 for Brandon, tomorrow let’s see them make it 2.