10 years ago today, the A's won their 19th consecutive game; today, they won their 9th consecutive game. Of course that 2002 A's team was as good as the Yankees. Oh guess what? The 2012 A's now have the same record as the 2012 Yankees: 76-57, 19 games over .500, tied for the second best record in the American League.
Today's "batting star du jour" was probably Stephen Drew, as the A's shortstop blasted his first Oakland HR and added an RBI single and a double, but it was Seth Smith who got the A's offense going. Following a Coco Crisp walk, Smith greeted Daisuke Matsuzaka with a majestic HR that put Oakland up 2-0. It was the second straight game in which the A's dented the runs column before visiting the outs column.
Matsuzaka wound up lasting just 3.2 IP and throwing 97 pitches, as the A's scored in each inning Matsuzaka began. Drew's HR made it 3-0 in the 2nd, Josh Reddick's sacrifice fly and a Drew single plated a pair of runs in the 3rd, and then the A's loaded the bases with one out in the 4th before Yoenis Cespedes drove home the A's 6th run with a squibber to 2B.
During this winning streak, the A's have made a habit of wearing down opposing SPs in the first 3 innings and forcing them to throw 70+ pitches just to get through 3 IP -- if they can. Just ask Zach McAllister, Roberto Hernandez, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, or Daisuke Matsuzaka.
In stark contrast, Brett Anderson worked quickly and effectively in blanking the Red Sox on 2 hits through 5 IP. Anderson's only wobbly inning came in the 6th when he loaded the bases with one out and served up a line drive single to LF to Cody Ross. Rather inexplicably, Red Sox' 3B coach Jerry Royster tried to score Scott Podsednik from 2B, running on Cespedes' arm. Bad idea. Cespedes fired a laser beam to the plate that was waiting for Podsednik, and Anderson escaped the inning with just one run's damage. Anderson's line: 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour, all a bit underworked lately because the A's have now outscored their opponents 72-22 during this 9-game winning streak, tossed an inning each to finish up. Balfour was touched for a run thanks to Dustin Pedroia's leadoff double and a couple of outs, but was never in a lot of trouble.
In fact, it kind of felt like the A's were never in a lot of trouble this entire weekend. They scored early, added on, pitched great, and thoroughly dominated the once-proud-but-now-just-cantankerous Red Sox. Bring on the Angels!