Note from baseballgirl: Bonus double-recap day, as we thought we'd reward the AN faithful with not just one look at the game, but TWO! Enjoy!!!!
The day was all about Frank Thomas returning to the green and gold, and the A's seemed invigorated by having the Big Hurt back where he belongs, spanking Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins 11-2, taking the series two games to one. Donnie Murphy smacked two home runs despite some swirling winds at the Coliseum.
It was bliss to see number 35 on a huge, hulking human being again. Actually, scratch that. It was great to see it on a guy who saunters up to the batter's box after wielding a giant metal pole in the on-deck circle. The A's won this one today, fairly easily. The jumped all over the not-all-the-way back Francisco Liriano. Liriano couldn't seem to hit the strike zone and when he did, it was usually a cookie right down the middle and the A's hitters capitalized repeatedly.
Donnie Murphy hit two home runs and now is tied for the team lead with three. Ken Korach made a very interesting observation during the game basically saying that the A's have an almost National League lineup because Bob Geren has so many different options off the bench.
Today, for the first time I can remember, the A's sent out an all right-handed lineup. The A's have become known in recent seasons for having plenty of left-handed options, but always lacking the right-handed sticks. Yet, up and down the lineup, the A's featured righties. And it benefited them big-time. Mike Sweeney announced that he isn't ready to relinquish his roster spot just yet, having a really good day at the plate and just barely missing another home run (six inches to the right of where he hit it and it was gone). Rajai Davis made a very impressive debut by going three for four and making an outstanding catch in center field that I didn't think he had any chance at whatsoever. Mike Sweeney even played first base and didn't look horrid doing it.
I am liking the A's set up because they can put in guys like Barton and Hannahan and Ryan Sweeney to face right-handed pitchers. Course I think Barton needs to be in there every day. I would love to get his OBP in front of Frank's OPS which would hopefully lead to many, many W's. As for me, given all of AN's issues lately and the new gray hairs I have from it, I'm going to go get some Z's, K?
Welcome back, Big Hurt. It's damn nice to see you in those white shoes again.
It's hard to remember the last time A's fans, the A's players, and the broadcast team experienced the feeling of real, genuine baseball electricity pumping out in waves as the A's take the field, but it was certainly there in spades today.
The whole game simply felt different today, as A's fans at the ballpark found an amazing surprise when the lineups were announced, revealing the clean-up hitter, newly-signed Frank Thomas. The announcers described the ear-to-ear smile he wore on his face, a smile that no doubt only increased as the game wore on.
With Francisco Liriano starting, the A's chose to play both Frank Thomas and Mike Sweeney (first base), and they never struggled for offense. After Smith gave up a first-inning homerun to put the A's behind 1-0, the A's offense returned the favor in spades, knocking Liriano out after only 2/3 of an inning, with five hits, three walks and six runs.
Taking the 6-1 lead into the second, the A's made Greg Smith's 7 strong innings (7 hits, 1 BB, 2 ER) stand up, as Donnie Murphy hit two homeruns, and all of the starters except Thomas collected at least one hit; Murphy with three. Also with three hits was the A's new speed-demon and MUCH IMPROVED upgrade at center field, Rajai Davis, who also legged out a triple.
The A's ended up with 11 runs, knocked in by Suzuki, Sweeney, Brown, Denorfia, and Murphy, and after Andrew Brown and Joey Devine slammed the door on the Twins, the A's find themselves with another series win, in electric fashion, as they head to Seattle for the weekend still tied atop the American League West.
This is as good as I've felt about the A's since the last time Thomas worn the green and gold, and for maybe the first time, I'm wondering if the 2008 Oakland Athletics may continue to be full of surprises.
So to sum up: Pitching = great, hitting = awesome, Thomas = wearing the white shoes, AN = working again, day so far = A+.