Normally it would seem silly to open a recap raving about a relief pitcher on a day when the A's banged out six runs on ten hits.
But when that relief pitcher is Andrew Bailey, who made his 2011 debut with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, I'm sure his offensive cohorts won't mind second billing. Yes, the two-time All-Star closer is back and suddenly a robust- albeit allegedly misused- bullpen just got stronger.
Be afraid, American League. Be very afraid.
Ok, so maybe it was only the Baltimore Orioles, but the A's finally earned their first sweep of the season, stretched their winning streak to a season-high four games, and caught up with an old friend once again.
Lady .500 is back, folks.
And how about those bats? When the Orioles pushed across four ump-aided runs in the top of the fifth to take a 4-1 lead, the A's shrugged it off and put their own 4-spot on the board in the bottom half to regain an advantage they would not relinquish.
The big blow came off the bat of Josh Willingham, who muscled a two-out, three-run homer into the BBQ Terrace in left field. Willingham also added a run-scoring single to get the A's on the board in the first.
The rally made a winner out of Guillermo Moscoso, who caught a bad break in the O's fifth. With two men on and nobody out, he fielded a bunt off the bat of Robert Andino and fired to third to catch the lead runner, J.J. Reynolds. Only Reynolds was called safe, to load the bases. A ball that was nearly miraculously caught by Coco Crisp in center dropped for a base hit to score the tying run, Moscoso walked Nolan Reimold with the bags full to plate another runner, and two more came home on consecutive groundouts.
But the A's stormed right back, closing within 4-2 on an RBI-knock by Conor Jackson, and taking the lead on Willingham's team-high ninth homerun of the season. Daric Barton's sac fly in the sixth concluded the scoring.
Make that four consecutive games that Oakland has scored four or more runs, tying their previous high for the season. It seems to be a magic number for the A's, as they are now 20-4 on the season when reaching that mark, including 12-1 in May.
Bring on the Yankees!