Oakland Athletics Beginning to Click, With Three Straight Wins

May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third base coach Ron Washington (38) low five
May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third base coach Ron Washington (38) low five /

The Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on a glorious sun-soaked Memorial Day afternoon.

Starter Kendall Graveman pitched very well for the Oakland Athletics as he lasted six innings. Graveman had to be good because the home plate ump, Jordan Baker, was not calling the low strike. It is a sign of Graveman’s maturity that he hung in there and refused to get rattled.

What stood out to me was the defense. I don’t think you can give him the MVP award, but Ron Washington deserves to be named Most Valuable Coach. Some things were seemingly routine, but very important.

In the top of the fifth, with runners at first and third, Brian Dozier hit a long fly ball that split the gap between Chris Coghlan in right and Coco Crisp in center. Both players went all out, and both of them hit one another very hard just as Coghlan was gloving the ball. Luckily, Coghlan held on. One run scored, but it was a sacrifice fly instead of bases clearing triple.

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Later in the inning, with two outs and runners at first and second, Graveman got Miguel Sano to pop out to second base. Unfortunately, Jed Lowrie lost the ball in the sun. Fortunately, Marcus Semien tracked the ball the whole way and caught it easily for the third out. A’s fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

The key defensive play, however, came in the seventh inning. With two outs, the tying run at third, and the go-ahead run at second, Joe Mauer turned on a Sean Doolittle fastball and hit a rocket down the first base line. Yonder Alonso made a dazzling play to save the game. Diving to his right, Alonso stole a game winning hit from Mauer. It might not show up in the box score, and it probably won’t make it on any “top-ten plays” list, but at that point in the game, the A’s needed a play like that desperately. On Monday, the defense was great!

The offense, on the other hand, was just good enough. Crisp led off the game with a home run. Semien drove in a run with a double to deep left. I actually thought it was a triple, but the ump called him out and replay refused to overturn it.

It looked like the A’s were going to break the game open in the sixth when they loaded the bases with no one out. They got the winning run home on a Khris Davis sacrifice fly, but with runners at first and third, Billy Butler grounded into a double play.  That was a little disappointing, but the A’s had the lead.

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John Axford and Ryan Madson, along with Doolittle, came out of the ‘pen to preserve the win for Graveman.

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In the end, the A’s left the park having won three straight games in a row. At the time, Oakland fans were hoping the Warriors would do the same later that night. Luckily, Golden State came through with an unlikely third consecutive victory over OKC and are headed to the NBA finals. Things are looking good in the Bay Area!