Andrew Bailey struck out Cabrera and Mauer in the ninth inning en route to his 24th save of the season--most ever for an A's rookie--as the A's beat the Twins for the second straight day. Bailey made a winner out of another Rookie of the Year candidate, Brett Anderson, whose seven inning, five hit, two run, zero walk, four strikeout day led the A's to yet another second half win powered by the rookies. Cliff Pennington went 3-3 in today's effort, as a different A's team than we have seen in the past put together traditional baseball fundamentals to score four runs, all without the benefit of a big hit.
The A's took full advantage of Mike Redmond filling in for Joe Mauer as the catcher today (Mauer DH'd), as they recorded five steals in the game (Ellis, Davis, Patterson, Pennington, Kennedy). We have certainly seen a shift this year in the importance of the running game, and I have to say I kind of like it. Rajai Davis (batting .304) has 36 steals in a season where he didn't even start the year as a full-time player.
But most impressive in today's game was the way that five of the six runs were scored. With the exception of a Pennington RBI double, all of the other runs in the game were scored via the sac fly; three by the A's, and two by the Twins. Both teams had only six hits on the day, but the difference in the game was the six walks that the A's received.
The A's took an early 2-0 lead in the second on an Ellis walk, a Barton double, a Patterson sac fly and a Pennington double, but the Twins came right back to tie it with single runs in the third and fourth. But the Twins' pitching loaded the bases with walks in the fifth, and the A's made them pay with the game-winning sac flies from Rajai Davis and Kurt Suzuki.
Cust went 0-4 with three strikeouts and did not look good doing it.
After Anderson breezed through his seven innings of work, Wuertz threw a scoreless eighth inning to set the stage for Andrew Bailey's big moment. Bailey's ERA is now at 2.03, and knowing the Baseball Writers, if he can get his ERA under 2 and his save total over 25, it might be the edge he needs over Niemann or Andrus for the ROY. The A's got Anderson the win today, but I think it is probably too late for Anderson this season. He'll have to try for the Cy starting next year.
With today's win, the A's have won the season series against the Twins, and considering how this season started, I'm calling that a victory. I wasn't sure we'd beat anyone. There is a lot to love about the young A's pitching, and their running game is masking their lack of real offense, at least for now.
The A's look for the sweep tomorrow in the very last A's game EVER at the Metrodome. For some reason, that makes me nostalgic.