The Oakland Athletics looked to keep the magic going on Monday night after a dramatic walk-off win Sunday afternoon. The A’s would now host their AL West foes for an all important three game series to begin their final week of the regular season. While the Angels play to secure home field advantage in the post season, the Athletics are still battling it out to stay above the Royals and Mariners for the top Wild Card spot.
Things got off to an uncomfortable start for the A’s and their rock-solid starter Jeff Samardzija, who gave up a lead-off double to Kole Calhoun. Calhoun reached third on an error by Jonny Gomes and crossed the plate for the Angels first run on a Mike Trout sacrifice fly. A’s fans may have had that “not again” feeling, but that would soon be put to rest in the bottom of the first.
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Thanks in large part to Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Athletics were able to do something that has been sorely missing lately – score early and score big. Coco Crisp started the A’s off with a single and then Sam Fuld reached base on a fielder’s choice. Things started to unravel for Wilson as he proceeded to walk three consecutive batters to put Oakland on the board.
After another walk and run another run scored for the A’s, catcher Geovany Soto came through with a two-out, two-run double. With a new pitcher in, the Angels looked to be out of the inning on a grounder to third but an errant throw allowed two more runs to score. The Coliseum erupted with excitement as the A’s tacked on six runs total in the first inning.
Samardzija went on to cruise through seven innings with four more hits sprinkled throughout his start, striking out three. Oakland threatened with the bases loaded in the fourth but would fail to score, an all too familiar scenario. But in the bottom of the seventh the Athletics would not let their opportunity for insurance runs go to waste. The bases were loaded up after two walks and an infield single. With the crowd chanting their rousing ode to Stephen Vogt, he answered with a base hit scoring two more runs, making it 8-1.
With just four outs to go for the win, the eighth inning proved to be more exciting than A’s fans would have liked as Albert Pujols took Evan Scribner deep with two on base. The Athletics left two more runners on base in the bottom of the eighth but thankfully did not need them as Luke Gregerson navigated around a pair of hits and an error in the ninth to close it out for the Athletics for a final score of 8-4.
With the win, the Athletics now hold a full game lead over Kansas City, and a three-game lead over Seattle in the wild card race. Their magic number to a clinch a wild card spot is four.
The green and gold showed they still hold the keys to winning games. Unyielding starting pitching, patient, timely hitting and good defense got the A’s to the top once and it can get them there again.