If I told you that Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss were a combined 1 for 11 today (a squib hit broke Donaldson's hitless streak, yay!) to continue their struggles at the plate, you probably wouldn't expect the A's to have scored 10 runs in the game as they backed up Jesse Chavez with a laugher, which was a bigger run difference than the final score will show thanks to a garbage 9th inning, but that's exactly what we got today. Chavez was positively fantastic today in his six innings and 87 pitches, allowing just 5 hits and one run, while striking out four.
Behind a sellout crowd--the A's third in a row--Derek Norris, hitting in the clean-up spot today, had another monster day at the plate, following up his Mother's Day performance with a Father's Day gem, sporting a single, double and another one of his patented 3-run home runs that started off the scoring for the A's in the very first inning. After singles by Crisp and Gentry put two runners on, Norris came to the plate with one out and cranked a home run to left field. The A's would never look back, and would even survive a Jim Johnson ninth inning, the only blemish on a really nice day for the A's.
Crisp would double the score with a three-run home run of his own in the second inning, scoring both Blanks and Punto (who both singled to reach base) on the play. The A's would tack on 4 more runs in the fourth as Blanks singled to open the inning and Punto and Crisp walked to load the bases. Craig Gentry was hit in the head to force in the A's seventh run, and would stay in the game. Norris would be hit on the hand while catching late in the game, but he would also stay in. Yoenis Cespedes singled in both Punto and Crisp for the A's eighth and ninth run, and after a smoked double-play by Lowrie, Donaldson got a slowly hit ball just past the defense for a hit, an RBI and the A's tenth run. They wouldn't score again, and despite a tiny scare in the ninth, wouldn't need to.
The box score won't show exactly what happened on two unique defensive plays in the game, but the A's, even sporting big leads for most of the afternoon, played some heads-up baseball to steal a couple of extra outs for their pitching. Punto got a double play in the third as he stopped a base runner in his tracks before throwing to first for the first out, and then throwing back to second base to catch the runner in a rundown for the second out.
A funny thing happened to end Yankees' half of eighth inning. With one out and a runner at first, Lowrie made a nice play on a ball hit in the hole by Carlos Beltran. Beltran, who clearly thought there were three outs when the force was made at second base, crossed first base and jogged away, back toward the dugout. Apparently, that is called "abandoning the base" and he can be tagged out if he doesn't get back to the base. Kudos to both Lowrie and Punto for realizing what happened, and Beltran was tagged out to end the inning. Unusual play.
The Yankees scored off Chavez in the sixth with back-to-back doubles to plate a run before Chavez' departure. He left the game with a low pitch count; hoping to save some of his pitches for later in the year with his now-heavy-workload starting role. Ryan Cook struggled in the seventh inning, allowing two additional Yankees runs, but at least he finished the inning, which is more than we can say for Jim Johnson, who started the ninth inning with a seven run lead, and couldn't finish the game. His line included a strike out, a walk, and a fly out for the first two outs, but a home run brought the game to 10-5 and another walk and a single brought Gregerson into the game to throw to the last batter.
So the A's win today to back up their win from last night, and they take the series from the Yankees before facing off against Texas starting tomorrow night. The A's have now won 42 games and have increased their lead to 4 games over the Angels, who play Sunday night baseball now. We'll see you back here tomorrow night for all the action.
Congratulations and best wishes to Derek Jeter on his baseball career; a true class act, playing the game the right way. I kid, I kid. Seriously though, best of luck. Thanks for being a great baseball role model, even in challenging times in New York.