Coco Bails Out Bullpen, Drops Magic Number to 4


At this point in the season, the most important goal for every day is to make sure that the all important magic number continues to decrease on a daily basis.  With the Texas Rangers soundly beating the Tampa Bay Rays to split their series at the Trop, it was up to the A’s to defeat the Minnesota Twins this evening in order for that to happen.  Dan Straily took the mound as he looked make his contribution to the cause.

September 19, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) hits a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning at Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Twins 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The game would be a back and forth battle throughout, and would move at a snail’s pace, but it wouldn’t be for lack of excitement.  The Twins took the first lead in the top of the third inning as Alex Presley made just enough contact to score Chris Parmalee from third against a drawn in infield.  Straily would end the threat soon after with a double play ball.  It was a Josh Reddick RBI double, and a Stephen Vogt sacrifice fly that would get the A’s on the board in the fourth inning, and give them their first lead of the evening.

Straily would find himself in more trouble in the fifth inning, loading the bases with just one out.  He would work his way out of trouble though with a clutch strikeout and a line out to Coco Crisp.  He wouldn’t be so fortunate though in the sixth inning, as the Twins would retake the lead 3-2 on singles by Josmil Pinto and Pedro Florimon as the bullpen took over for Straily.  It would take Dan Otero and Brett Anderson to finish the inning.  Straily would finish with a line of 5.2 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.

The A’s though would storm back in the bottom half of the inning on the heels of a game tying home run by pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo and a three run shot by Jed Lowrie to make it 6-3.  Anderson would come out to work the seventh as well, and would allow the Twins to inch closer on a home run by Oswaldo Arcia to cut the lead to 6-4.  He would escape any further damage.

Ryan Cook would have other ideas though, consistent with his struggles of late Cook allowed the Twins to tie the game in the top of the eighth innings.  He allowed two singles, a walk, and two earned runs in working through just 1/3 of an inning.  Jesse Chavez inherited his mess, and allowed the single that charged Cook with his second run.  Finally, Sean Doolittle would come into the game and end the nonsense, striking out Oswaldo Arcia to end the inning.

Not content to let the Twins try and steal this win, Coco Crisp would do what he’s done better than anyone for the last month, and that is turn to the longball.  He launched his 21st home run of the season into the right field bleachers to give the A’s an 8-6 lead that they would not relinquish.  Doolittle worked a six pitch top of the ninth to close out the game in a quick and tidy fashion.

The win is the Athletics’ 90th of the season, and maintains their 6.5 game lead in the AL West over the Texas Rangers.  As noted before, their magic number to clinch the AL West is down to just four.  Also significant is the fact that their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now at three, as they are seven games ahead of the Cleveland Indians, who trail the Rangers and the Rays in the wild card hunt.  At this point it really doesn’t even matter what the Rangers do, as long as the A’s get the job done they will be in the playoffs once again.

Bartolo Colon (16-6, 2.73 ERA) goes for his 17th win of the season tomorrow night against the young lefty Andrew Albers (2-3, 3.81 ERA) as the A’s look to guarantee themselves a split in this series, and make progress towards possibly clinching the AL West at home before their final road trip next week.