Remember when I said that one of these days the bats were going to meet the arms halfway, and it would be a beautiful thing? Today was one of those days.
It's not just the 5 runs the offense put up, which is more than both teams combined for in the previous two contests. Even on several outs, the A's hit the ball hard today. Eventually they hit them in places where no man or glove could reach. Like Hideki Matsui's first homerun in an Oakland uniform, a majestic blast that hit off the facing of the second deck in the fourth inning to give the A's a 1-0 lead.
And with the Twins struggling at the plate- they scored in just two innings the entire weekend- one run may have been enough, especially the way Brandon McCarthy was dealing today. In his second straight stirring start, McCarthy blanked the Twins on nine hits, walking no one and striking out five in 7-1/3 innings of work.
And here's this gem (thanks to Shoes for posting):
JaneMLB Jane Lee
McCarthy, who has gotten most run support this season: “I think they like me more than the other guys.”
11 minutes ago
#Athletics have scored five runs for McCarthy each time out. “They like me better,” he joked. “I have a better personality.”
But whereas the A's were one and done on Friday and Saturday, they went crooked today with a four-run sixth to put this one to bed early. If Matsui's homerun impressed, Josh Willingham's simply awed. He crushed one into the standing room only crowd, his third dinger of the season. Matsui followed with a base hit, and went to third on a fan-aided ground-rule double down the left field line off the bat of Ryan Sweeney. That spelled the end for started Scott Baker. His successor, Jeff Manship immediately walked Mark Ellis to load the bases. Kevin Kouzmanoff brought Matsui home with a sac fly to deep-enough center, and Landon Powell drove in Sweeney with a first-pitch, two-bagger off the base of the wall in right. After a second pitching change, Cliff Pennington made it 5-0 with a sacrifice fly to plate Ellis.
When you've only managed four runs in your previous three games, the same many runs in one inning is cause for celebration.
And for seven-plus frames, McCarthy kept the Twins from joining the party. It's not if as Minnesota didn't have opportunities to eke out a run, they just couldn't capitalize. The Twins had men on base in every inning except the second, and when McCarthy wasn't shutting them down, they were shooting themselves in the foot. Jim Thome was the face of Minnesota's frustration, as he grounded out with a man on first in the first, hit into a double play following a single in the fourth, and struck out with a man on second to end the sixth. The Twins may have had their best chance to break through in the fifth when Jason Kubel led off the inning with a base hit to center that was misplayed miserably by David DeJesus, and mercifully bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. After one out, Danny Valencia followed with a singled to right, but quickly found himself in a rundown after trying to advance an additional ninety feet. Ryan Sweeney's bullet to the infield was gloved by Daric Barton, who chased down Valencia as Kubel watched from third base. Brilliant execution by the BFF's.
Alas, the Twins finally did crack the scoreboard, chasing McCarthy with consecutive knocks after one out was recorded in the bottom of the eighth. Jerry Blevins was greeted by a Justin Morneau groundout to score one run, and Thome followed with a mammoth shot to center to make it 5-3.
But as they say, too little too late. Another errorless game for the A's (five in a row!), their first multiple-homer game, their first series win, their first winning steak, and a second straight sweet 67M Sunday.
On to the Windy City!