Well, now that was more like it! If you like good, solid baseball from the A's; the game where the pitching, offense and defense all showed up in the very same night, you would have loved this one, as the home field proved to be just what the A's needed as they beat the first-place Rangers behind A.J. Griffin and back-to-back homeruns by Cespedes and Moss.
This was a much needed game for the A's and their fans, stopping the seemingly endless freefall and bringing the A's back up to the .500 mark and closing the gap between the A's and the Rangers to just 5 games, a slim margin considering the difference in the last 10 games for the two clubs. The A's are 3-7 in the last ten; the Rangers 7-3. The A's have two more games in the series, and could really put the last roadtrip out of their minds with a strong homestand here.
We have to start with A.J. Griffin, who put a couple of runners on early, but when all was said and done, finished with seven strong innings, six hits, zero walks, and eight strikeouts. A solo homerun by Mitch Moreland in the second inning was the only blemish on his awesome night. Doolittle struck out the side in the eighth, and Cook finished the ninth to lock down the win for the A's.
Meanwhile, the A's didn't let the 1-0 deficit stand for long. In the same second inning, Donaldson singled with one out and Barton replaced him at first on a fielder's choice for the second out. Norris walked to put two runners on, and Sogard singled to score Barton. Then Jaso singled to score Norris and suddenly the A's were up 2-1.
With Griffin pumping in strike after strike, the A's put some insurance on the board in the third as Cespedes homered to center field, and before we could even enjoy the replays, Moss followed with his own shot out to center, staking the A's to a 4-1 lead before allegedly, Cespedes upchucked and was taken out of the game. We're calling sickness, not injury, but we hope it's one of those 24 hour bugs; he is needed in the A's thin lineup tomorrow; Crisp and Young could play as early as Wednesday, but not before. Cespedes was replaced by Michael Taylor, and because this is a happy recap, I won't even mention how he did. You can probably extrapolate that for yourselves, based on his previous major league at-bats.
Daric Barton was hit by a pitch to lead off the sixth inning and was doubled in by Derek Norris for the A's final run. The game would end with the final score of 5-1.
One quirky note worth mentioning: Elvis Andrus, for some unknown reason, attempted a steal of second in the ninth inning, down four runs, mind you, and nearly got thrown out at second (he ended up safe), and injured himself on the play while he was at it (he would stay in the game for the last two outs), but it was odd enough to stand out.
All in all, this was a fabulous game by the A's, one that keeps them within shouting distance of the Rangers in the AL West's top slot, and brings them back up to .500, even while being decimated by injuries. (That proof being Moss playing half of the game in center field tonight.) But most importantly, this game showed that the A's pitchers can pitch to a tough lineup and be successful for longer than 5 innings. I hope the rest of the staff was taking notes.
Tomorrow night we do it again; same time, same place. Colon will be taking on Holland. Lev will be hosting for you.