I could get used to this. The A's banged out 4 more HRs, including back-to-back bombs by Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter to go with a two-run shot by Jonny Gomes and a solo blast by Seth Smith, and the A's put up 9 runs for the second straight game. The A's are now a major league best 9-1 in July and sit 3 games over .500 for the first time since June, 2010.
Oakland forced Brian Duensing to throw 41 pitches in the top of the 1st, scoring twice (once on a Cespedes single and again on a bases loaded walk to Derek Norris) and leaving the bases loaded. The A's then launched three HRs (Gomes, Cespedes, Carter) in the 2nd and chased Duensing after just 2 innings.
Staked to a 6-1 lead after an inning and a half, Jarrod Parker did what he needed to do: He threw strikes, walking none in his 6 "not brilliant but get the job done" innings. Jerry Blevins retired all 5 he faced and Evan Scribner finished up, as the A's bullpen ran their recent run of success to 32 IP, 2 ER.
Some observational/analytical notes about some of the A's hitters...
- Jemile Weeks...If someone wants to look up the particulars, what has really stood out to me is that it seems like Weeks has had an awful lot of "3 ball counts" in the past month or so. Lots of full counts, a fair number of walks, and just generally getting into deep counts -- all encouraging signs of patience and a good eye. Sure his season stats still don't look good and certainly he is easy to overlook right now since he's not -- and this is a good thing -- part of the "HR parade" -- but I'm seeing plenty of signs that Weeks is coming around and ready to put his "sophomore slump" behind him.
- Chris Carter...It's really noticeable how Carter is "letting the ball come to him" instead of committing early or jumping at the pitch. As a result, he is a lot harder to fool as he's simply seeing pitches longer and trusting his quick bat. Carter's HR was impressive but perhaps more important is that he walked three times today. He is batting with a lot of confidence and calmness, equally ready to unleash his swing at hittable pitches and to lay off pitches that "aren't the one". So good to see.
- Yoenis Cespedes...Cespedes had his first 4-hit game today and has been using the right side of the field lately, which I believe to be the key to his success. He'll always pull the ball just fine, but has been pitched away a lot lately. I said a while back that Cespedes' discovery of driving the ball the other away would coincide with his turning the corner from a "great mistake hitter" to "a great hitter, period," and I think that time has come. He can now punish pitches away, which is forcing pitchers to come inside more -- Cespedes now owns both sides of the plate, and it doesn't cost him any slugging because he can hit the ball out, or to the wall, from anywhere in the strike zone. Did I see this right: Did he lunge a bit, reach for a pitch, and hit a majestic HR to straightaway CF today? Holy cow.
- Jonny Gomes...Just thanks, Jonny Gomes. Thanks.