Cereal bowls! Get your cereal bowls at the gate! In an unusual giveaway at the Coliseum today, the A's handed out Coco Crisp cereal bowls, which were obviously good luck, as their namesake and his speed broke a scoreless tie and also added an insurance run in a game that saw Parker record his fourth win, Balfour his thirteenth save, and the A's their 9th win in the last 10 games, and 14th of their last 16th. During this stretch, the A's starting pitching has racked up fifteen quality starts in the last twenty games, and are deep into a game of "Whatever he can do, I can do better". It seems to be working. Parker, who was embroiled in a duel with Chris Sale, kept the White Sox off the board long enough for his team to do what they do best; score in the late innings and win ballgames.
Parker had to really pitch right out of the gate today, as a single and a walk put two on for the White Sox in the very first inning. He was on the winning end of a 10-pitch at-bat by Dayan Viciedo, striking him out for out #2, and following that with a strikeout of Adam Dunn to end the inning. He would face the minimum in the second and third innings, but Dunn gave the crowd a scare in the fourth with a double high off the outfield wall, that looked gone off the bat, and nearly was; another six inches and the White Sox would have had a lead. Or if a double-play hadn't erased the lead-off hitter, the run would have also scored. But in these fun days of baseball, everything is coming up A's, so of course, it ended up as a harmless 2-out, bases-empty double when Casper Wells (who was abused today with the hat trick from Oakland pitching) struck out.
The A's got their first hit on a single by Freiman in the second, and their second hit on a single by Rosales in the third, but had no real rally until the sixth. Sale, who was legitimately fantastic today, made the ultimate mistake by walking Coco Crisp to open the inning. Crisp, who was dancing all around the bases, became more than just a mild distraction; he had to have helped Lowrie's at-bat here, and also later in the game. Lowrie would single Crisp to third and A's fans collectively began to panic as Cespedes struck out, leaving the runner on third. Fortunately, Josh Donaldson battled through his at-bat, taking seven pitches to launch a sac fly and bring in the RBI, the first run of the game.
Parker would last through one batter in the seventh in the 1-0 game, and Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook would record the other two outs of the inning. Cook had a perfect eighth inning as well, and the A's put one more insurance run on the board in the bottom of the inning. Coco ended up at first base on a one-out single, and Jed Lowrie once again singled him to third. Mike Gallego, almost as if he knew the outfielder would bobble the ball, showed no hesitation in waving Coco all the way from first to home on the play and the A's notched the all-important second run. Not that Balfour would need it; his streak stays intact as he slammed the door again, sending the A's to a season-high 10 games over .500. It's hard to want anything else as an A's fan right now; this is the best!
Meanwhile, around the AL West, Texas won, and so did Houston again, winners of 5 in a row; the last three of them against the Angels, as the Astros are poised to sweep the four game series in Anaheim. Did not see that coming.
The A's now pack up and hit the road tonight, en route to Milwaukee, where they will visit the Brewers for the first time in Interleague play. That game will begin at 5:10PM tomorrow, Milone vs. Estrada. We'll be here with all the action.