Game #94: Light 'em up up up; Griffin, Balfour Blank the Red Sox, A's Score 3 to Win

USA TODAY Sports

Well, that's more like it! The A's beat the Red Sox in a thrilling game tonight to tie the series behind A.J. Griffin. They won't be the biggest story tonight in the Bay Area, but who cares? This is playoff-caliber baseball over in Oakland! Griffin was sensational in his eight innings, and Grant Balfour just keeps saving games. The A's scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, and while their offense is still relatively quiet, they are winning games.

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart.

Well, darn if the Coliseum doesn't look like a whole lot of fun lately. With two outs and two strikes in the ninth, I saw people of all ages shaking their A's caps, raging along with the WAGs in the stands, and just plain enjoying their awesome summer night in Oakland, at the most exciting ballpark in Major League baseball right now. The A's paid the Red Sox back from the loss last night and have tied the series with the rubber game to go tomorrow. Of course, we knew the A's would win early on; Texas had won just before the game started tonight, and both of these teams are mirror images with their records this year.

The Red Sox's defense remains awesome, but it couldn't stop the A's from pushing across three runs against starter John Lester. Meanwhile, A.J. Griffin scattered six hits and one walk over eight full innings, throwing 110 pitches in his eighth win of the season and rocking the hot headband in his postgame interview. Yeah, baby. Yoenis Cespedes had a great night at the plate, recording two singles and a walk; the only reason he didn't have a third hit was a Boston-esque defensive play in the outfield. Hilariously, Bob Melvin was asked in the postgame if Cespedes was working on a shorter singles swing, and he deadpanned, "No, he's been practicing his homerun swing."

Josh Reddick also had two hits, and although Grant Green was robbed of his first bloop hit, he did have an important at-bat late in the game with two runners on. He also made a nice double-play, but also made an error to give Boston an extra baserunner. It didn't cost the A's, but it didn't stop them from replacing him defensively in the eighth either.

Grant Balfour recorded his 25th save on the season; just another night at work for him, and it's amazing how under the radar he is with the All-Star Game looming next week. I'm fine with him getting a nice break, but for his sake, I want people to recognize what he's done for the A's this season.

Griffin fought the Red Sox in the very first inning, as they put two runners on with two outs, but he got out of the jam. He worked around a one-out double in the fourth, and two more on in the sixth (courtesy of a single and the error), but he gave up not a single run in his eight innings, and probably could have gone nine had Balfour not been lurking. That's one way to solve the Doolittle/Cook struggles; can we just skip the middle relief?

The A's didn't score their first run until the fifth inning when Derek Norris unloaded a homerun on a two-out, two-strike count to give the A's the 1-0 lead. In the sixth, a one-out walk to Lowrie and a Donaldson single (also on a bad 0-2 pitch) put two on for Cespedes, who singled in the A's second run. They got their third in the seventh as Reddick singled and Norris walked to put two more on base. Grant Green flew out foul to right field, allowing the runner to get to third. Crisp, who was miraculously not tossed from this game for arguing balls and strikes, singled Reddick in and gave the A's the 3-0 lead, and Balfour the maximum runs to work with. He wouldn't need either insurance run, as the A's put up their 8th shutout of the year.

The A's try to win the series tomorrow as Bartolo Colon faced off against Brandon Workman, whoever that is. He's clearly making his first major league start. 1:05 start, we'll be right here.

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