The Oakland A's keep partying like it's 1969, only the team is good! Donning garish Charlie Finley era 1969 jerseys, the A's turned back the clock to more like 1972-74, parlaying excellent starting pitching from
Ken Holtzman Tommy Milone, power hitting from catcher Gene Tenace Derek Norris, and an insurance run scored by the fleet footed Rick Monday Billy North Herb Washington Coco Crisp to come back and beat the California Los Angeles Anaheim -- oh you know who we played -- by a final score of 3-1.
The Angels struck first, when a Tommy Milone cutter crept out over the plate and Josh Hamilton launched it into the RF seats in the 2nd. However, Milone settled down and allowed just that 1 run, on 4 hits, in 7 IPs, despite an uncharacteristic 4 BBs.
The A's never did quite solve Garret Richards, who lasted only 5 IPs but blanked the A's on 3 hits. Oakland had its best shot off of Richards in the 3rd when Eric Sogard singled to lead off and then Coco Crisp beat out a bunt single. However, Jed Lowrie bounced into a DP and Josh Donaldson, still "RBI-less" since the All-Star Break, struck out.
Dane De La Rosa shut the A's down in the 6th but walked Josh Reddick to start the 7th with the Angels still leading 1-0. Chris Young was asked to lay down a bunt, but apparently no one instructed him to bunt it well. Young's bunt back to the mound was fired to 2nd by De La Rosa for a force out, leaving Young at 1B with one out.
Scott Downs was summoned to face Stephen Vogt, and so Bob Melvin countered with his RH catcher, Derek Norris. Downs had gone 29 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, dating back to May 1st against...Oakland. Meanwhile, Norris had never had a pinch hit. First pitch? Swung on, gone. A 2-run HR that vaulted the A's in front 2-1. The A's weren't done, as with 2 outs Crisp singled to CF and then Lowrie drove one over RF Collin Cowgill for an RBI double that gave Oakland some insurance.
Speaking of insurance, am I correct in thinking that Grant Balfour sounds a lot like the GEICO lizard? "15 IPs can get you 15 saves or more!" Following his blown save on Tuesday night, Balfour has started a new saves streak with one last night and another today, this one courtesy of a 1-2-3 9th.
So the A's have posted a score for the Texas Rangers to see as they take the field at Cleveland for a duel of aces between Yu Darvish and Justin Masterson. Right now, Oakland holds a 4.5 game lead in the AL West. It's not their biggest division lead since 1969, but it is their biggest division lead since 2006. Jarrod Parker against Tommy Hanson tomorrow as the A's go for the series win.