Highlighted by solo home runs off the bats of Ryan Sweeney, Landon Powell, Travis Buck and Josh Donaldson, doubling their spring total as a team, the Oakland A's scored 11 consecutive runs en route to a 15-6 rout against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, AZ. A day after getting 16 hits, the A's did themselves two better with 18, of which 11 went for extra bases.
This was one of those long games you absolutely dread during the regular season, one that went 3:36, made even worse by it being a Cactus League game during the first week in March. It took two hours just to play the first five innings, including a fifth inning that featured six runs, three hits, five walks and a hit-by-pitch handed out to Oakland batters.
The A's got off to a solid start against the Padres and Josh Geer as Travis Buck led off with a long double to the 410-foot mark in center field. He'd soon score on a wild pitch by Geer, who was very hittable. Sweeney smacked a home run to right and one out later, Powell nailed one almost to the same spot. Sean Doolittle doubled for their fourth extra-base hit of the inning but they had to settle for a three-spot.
Buck kept things going with a homer into the right field bullpen in the second. Gio Gonzalez took a sharp one-hopper off his leg from Kevin Kouzmanoff in the bottom of the inning but he stayed in the game. With runners in scoring position in the first, Cliff Pennington fouled out to end the inning. In a similar situation in the third, he turned around to bat from the right side and showed his versatility by striking out instead. The Padres got to Gonzalez in the bottom of the third thanks to a single and an error, then a few more singles that varied from an infield squibber to a line drive.
After Gonzalez hit Cliff Floyd, manager Bob Geren decided that was it and Chris Schroder was brought in to pitch, inheriting a bases loaded, one out situation. Kouzmanoff hit a sacrifice fly but it helped Schroder get out of the inning with the A's holding a 4-3 lead. Gonzalez did continue a positive trend from Oakland starters, not walking anyone, but he allowed six hits and three runs over 2 1/3 innings, most of his trouble coming in the third.
In the fourth, Kyle Blanks hit the top of the wall in left-center for a double and that led to the Padres taking a short-lived lead against Schroder, who got the win. The Padres failed to get the shutdown inning as Matt Carson led off the fifth with a triple for the A's and Doolittle came through with a single that Will Venable nearly made a diving catch on. Once again, Pennington came to bat with runners in scoring position. This time he drew a walk, then Eric Patterson followed up by getting grazed on a 3-2 pitch. The A's went back in front then extended the lead to 9-5 on a three-run double by Mark Ellis. All six runs they eventually scored in the long half-inning were charged to Cesar Ramos, who suffered the loss.
More Oakland offense came in the form of a four-run seventh. Backup catcher Rob Bowen hit a two-run double after a walk to Ben Copeland and a single by Carson, who had a solid game at the plate. Yung Chi Chen soon followed with a double of his own to plate yet another run as multiple reserves took their turns in the order, later scoring on a groundout by Jemile Weeks to make it 14-5 at that point. Donaldson put one over the same 410-foot mark Sweeney doubled off of earlier for their final tally of the day.
After Schroder, Russ Springer, Santiago Casilla, Jeff Gray and Andrew Carignan all saw action in relief and only Gray ran into any real trouble, allowing a run on three hits and a walk to go with a pair of strikeouts. Overall, the Padres had a day to forget on the mound. In addition to the 15 runs and 18 hits, they walked nine and had three wild pitches.
The A's have now won four straight after a slow start to their Cactus League schedule, improving to 5-4-1 while San Diego dropped to 2-5-2. Tomorrow Oakland has a pair of split-squad games, hosting the Cleveland Indians in Phoenix and traveling to Scottsdale to face the San Francisco Giants. Both games start at 1:05 PM (remember to change your clocks ahead an hour). Brett Anderson is expected to start against the Indians while Dana Eveland should face the Giants. 3B Eric Chavez hopes to play the field on Monday.