Well, I'm not going to say it's the New AN Platform, but it is 2-0 in games this year. Thanks to everyone who participated in tonight's first StoryStreamed GameThread, which saw five open threads, and well over 2,000 comments. This game was such that it needed a thread an inning for the first three innings, as the majority of the scoring was done early. The usual nightly heart-attack/vomit-inducing stress was all but abated by the fourth inning, leaving us to enjoy the rest of the game. It's a good thing too, because the A's play the series finale in just over 12 hours.
The story of the game really has to be Jarrod Parker, who was nearly yanked in the second inning. He battled back, showing poise far beyond his rookie years, and managed to shut down the Rangers in Arlington, allowing just three runs in his six innings, throwing 109 pitches. The bullpen breathed a sigh of relief, along with everyone who has seen our "bad" bullpen pitch, as they were called on for a Blevins outing (1.2 innings), and a Scribner outing (1.1 innings). The Rangers scored one in the first, two in the second, and didn't score again, which is: In play (miracles).
Meanwhile, the A's offense made sure that starting pitcher Martin Perez didn't make it out of the first inning; he was yanked with two out. He was followed by the ticker-tape parade of Oswalt, Font, Schepers, Tateyama, and Grimm. And although he has taken his share of criticism this season, no one was more valuable for the A's offense tonight than leadoff man Stephen Drew, who replaced the injured Coco Crisp (still don't want to talk about that) and went 4-5. But maybe the best news of the night was after a defeated Josh Reddick struck out with a runner on third and one out in the first inning, Reddick walked, flew out, and singled in both the seventh and ninth innings. With Crisp leaving a gaping hole in the A's lineup, and probably partially leading to the struggles of the last week, it is nice to see the offense picking up the slack.
The A's offense also only struck out 11 times tonight. And their pitchers struck out 12. Does that count for a run differential equation? Never mind, I don't want to see that one. And weirdly enough, all nine of the A's runs came without benefit of a single homerun, and every starter had a hit except Pennington.
So what happened to get us to this magical place?
Before Parker ever took the mound tonight, the A's had scored five runs. A Stephen Drew double started the game, and after Gomes lined out, Cespedes tripled in the first A's run. Funny side note: It looked like Cespedes tweaked his foot on the play and as the trainers ran out to assist him, Beltre helped translate for Cespedes. I imagine Beltre really wanted to translate: "I'm really hurt, coaches, please, please take me out of this game, and don't let me play against Texas for the rest of the season". Luckily for us, Cespedes finished the game, seemingly with no ill-effects. Chris Carter singled Cespedes in for the A's second run, Moss moved Carter to second with a single, and Josh Donaldson singled, and after Hamilton missed the ball, both runs scored on the play. Norris also tripled in the inning, driving in the A's fifth run. All was sunshine and unicorns for the A's, until Parker took the mound.
A walk and a double got a run back for the Rangers in the first, but Parker just looked like he couldn't get comfortable. He threw a lot of pitches, and a lot of them missed. Parker allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases for the Rangers with no one out in the second; Texas would get their second run on a ground out, and their third on a sac fly. It didn't feel like it, but the second inning score of 5-3 would be enough to win the game. The A's; however, knew we couldn't handle seven innings of a two-run game, so the offense came through again. Donaldson and Reddick walked to lead off the third inning, and Pennington walked with one out to load the bases. Stephen Drew singled in two runs, and the A's had a comfortable 7-3 lead. Parker recovered and threw four more innings, easily recording the win, and the A's added a run in the fourth on a Moss double and a Norris single, and one more run in the ninth on a Moss double, Reddick single, and Norris sac fly.
Tonight's win was huge; taking the Division lead down from 5 to 3 from when the first game ended, winning two in a row, and improving the road trip to 4-5 has gone a long way in the A's playoff bid. The real game now, of course, will be tomorrow morning; if the A's can squeak out a win, they will officially be challenging for the Division title. The A's can get to as few as two back of Texas tomorrow, and they will play a Felix-less Seattle over the weekend, while the Rangers play the red-hot, everything-to-lose, fighting-like-mad Angels before the two clubs meet up for the final three games. The A's could currently win the Division, the first Wild Card (although both the Yankees and the Orioles won tonight, along with the Rays), the second Wild Card, or they could be out of the playoff race entirely. Seven games to go, and literally anything could happen. No wonder all of us look like the walking dead lately. Isn't this grand? I can't remember a tighter playoff race that has been going on for such a long time (at least not one that we cared about). Seven games in seven days. We'll know how everything turns out a week from today.
Seattle is leading the Angels 3-2 in the sixth. Go root for Seattle like you root for the A's (just for today and tomorrow, please.)
We'll see you back here tomorrow morning at 11AM for the series finale; Blackley vs. Harrison.