Final Score: A's 5, Rangers 1
Jarrod Parker was supposed to be the starting pitcher but he got sick. Yoenis Cespedes was supposed to start but nagging soreness in his shoulder kept him out of the lineup. That meant there was space on the mound for Tommy Milone and room in the OF for Chris Young and Josh Reddick.
So Milone tossed 5 IP of 1 run ball to earn his 11th win, while Young and Reddick were instrumental in the A's scoring, and that depth may be all you need to know about why the A's are now a robust 6.5 games up on the reeling Texas Rangers with 13 games to play. Oakland's magic number to clinch the AL West is 8.
The A's scored 2 in the 1st, roaring out of the gate with back-to-back singles by Coco Crisp and Chris Young to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Jed Lowrie's DP ball brought in the game's first run and then Josh Donaldson blasted the first of 3 A's HRs to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. Milone gave one back in the 1st before he and the A's bullpen (Otero, Cook, Doolittle, Chavez) shut Texas out for the final 8 innings.
As for the rest of the scoring, Young blasted a solo HR in the 3rd to make it 3-1 and Josh Reddick launched a 2-run HR off of Joaquim Soria in the 9th to turn a 3-1 Grant Balfour save situation into a 5-1 "give the ball to Jesse Chavez" situation. Chavez worked a 1-2-3 9th.
Certainly depth and power are big reasons the A's won today -- while Oakland leads the league in HRs since the All-Star break, the Rangers have now gone 6 straight games without a HR for the first time since 1991. But there are other reasons as well.
There was a subtle, but I think important, moment in the bottom of the 4th with the A's leading just 3-1. Jim Adduci singled with one out and the count ran full on Joey Butler. With Adduci running on the pitch, Butler blooped a soft liner to RF. Unsure if Reddick would catch it, Adduci stopped short of 2B to see if Reddick could get to it -- even though had Reddick caught the ball Adduci was going to be doubled off easily. Reddick played the ball on a hop and Adduci stopped at 2B. If Adduci just continues on without ever stopping he winds up at 3B, which became key when Craig Gentry lifted a routine fly ball -- which would have been a sacrifice fly with a runner at 3B -- for the second out and Texas wound up stranding both runners. It was one of 5 times today that the Rangers left 2 runners on base.
If there were doubts going in as to who was the better team, after this weekend there are mostly doubts as to whether the Rangers can hang onto a playoff spot. Texas just finished a 6-game homestand in which they never had the lead, and with their win today the Baltimore Orioles moved to within 1.5 games of the Rangers and while the rain-delayed find themselves just 1 game back. September is when the cream rises and the sludge falls, and all the A's can say about that is, "Moooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!"