OK, remember when I said it was wildly premature to say the A's are clicking on all cylinders? Well perhaps I was wildly premature in saying it was wildly premature.
Striking early and often, Oakland cruised to a 9-1 victory over the stumbling Baltimore Orioles, their season-high fourth straight win.
The A's wasted no time in putting runs on the board. Orlando Cabrera jumped on Jeremy Guthrie's first pitch for a base hit, and sped over to third on a single by Adam Kennedy. Both runners waltzed home on a three-run bomb by Jack Cust (back spasms and all) and the A's had a 3-0 lead before most of the Friday night crowd of 12,608 had settled in their seats.
That turned out to be only half the fun in the first. Matt Holliday singled, and after Jason Giambi forced him at second with a shot off Guthrie's right hand, Kurt Suzuki drilled a double over the head of center fielder Adam Jones. Aaron Cunningham singled up the middle to score Giambi and Suzuki, took second on the throw to the plate, and raced home through Mike Gallego's stop sign on a base hit by the much-maligned Rajai Davis for a 6-0 score.
That was all for Guthrie whose line read like this: 2/3 IP, 7H, 6ER. Well, at least he didn't walk anyone.
Staked to a month's worth of run support, starter Dallas Braden (7IP, 5H, 1R) stayed clear of metal objects, and fired zeroes at the O's. He struck out two batters in each of the first three innings then K'd hot-hitting Luke Scott for the second time in the fourth to tie a career high with seven. Even when he wasn't punching out Baltimore batters, Braden still had his fingerprints all over this one, inducing a 1-6-3 double play to end the fifth.
The A's rewarded the southpaw for his glove work with another three runs in the bottom half. Adam Kennedy led off with a single, the first batter to reach base against reliever Mark Hendrickson, who had retired ten straight. Jack Cust walked to bring up Holliday, who mashed a three-run homer to deep center to make it 9-0.
That's right folks; the price of Matt Holliday has just gone (back) up.
The Orioles finally figured out Braden in the seventh. Luke Scott homered to right, his 13th of the year, to put a stop to a string of 20 scoreless innings by Oakland pitchers. One can only wonder where Baltimore would be without Scott. He has hit his team's last six homeruns. During this recent skid in which they have lost five of six, the Orioles have scored a total of nine runs, or tonight's A's output.
Meanwhile the cylinders I keep referring to were a-clicking tonight. Braden went at least six innings for the fourth consecutive start, the offense now has a dozen homers in its last six games, and the defense has been solid, if not spectacular. It was a nice tidy win (2 hours, 14 minutes) for the Home Nine.
That corner we all keep waiting for the A's to turn is coming into view. And it's a beautiful thing.