Well, that's more like it. In a day when our new addition was--how do I say this charitably--awful at the plate, Brett Anderson stole the show by pitching an incredible game as he returned to the mound for the first time in over 400 days. How does seven innings, four hits, one run (on one bad wild pitch), six strikeouts, zero walks sound? I like the comment in the game thread about how no one just magically gets a well-rested ace down the stretch run, but somehow we did. If you're not excited about an A's rotation with Anderson, McCarthy, Colon and Parker, with literally four other good pitchers battling for the fifth spot, then I don't know what to tell you. I finally feel like the A's might have assembled enough puzzle pieces to stay in the race, despite the glaring holes in the middle infield, and the fire coming out of Tampa Bay (loss tonight) and Baltimore (win tonight).
The A's bullpen followed up Anderson's gem with nothing but perfection; one inning from Doolittle, one inning from Balfour; no walks, no hits, and three strikeouts between them. The A's pitching was near-perfect tonight, and the offense did just enough to make sure they were rewarded for it.
The Twins got on the board in the first inning as a single, stolen base, and groundout put a runner at third with two outs. Anderson uncorked his only mistake pitch; a wild pitch in the dirt that bounced away from Norris and allowed the run to score. It wouldn't really matter; Willingham's subsequent single would have scored the run anyway. He was picked off to end the inning.
The A's tied the game in the second on a Seth Smith walk and a double by the still-red-hot Donaldson (who was 2-4 on the night). Meanwhile, Anderson set the Twins down in order in the second, third, and fourth innings. For those of you counting, he left no baserunners on in his outing. The Twins threatened in the fifth with back to back singles to open the inning, but then, something amazing happened. Something that only happens to the 2012 Oakland A's, because the A's are playing with house money, and it's magical. The ball was chopped to Donaldson, who was moving toward third base; he stepped on the base, threw high to second base, and a fabulous catch-and-turn by new second baseman Adam Rosales turned the ever-elusive triple play; the A's first since 2000, and the first one at home since 1983. There is no way Weeks would have turned it; not a knock on him, but rather a credit to Rosales' incredible arm. Here is the replay, should you want to view it (thanks, sc00b!)
The A's finally broke the tie in the sixth as Seth Smith (welcome back!) hit a two-out single, Donaldson singled, and Norris singled to drive in Smith, to give the A's a lead they wouldn't relinquish. They would add on in the seventh on a Crisp double, a Josh "0-2" Reddick RBI single, a Cespedes single, and an RBI double by Carter. That would be all she wrote as the A's storm back to even the series, and will look for the series win in day baseball tomorrow.
The A's climb back to 10 games over .500 (this will never cease to amaze me), five games behind Texas, and the usual half game out of the Wild Card. They need to keep winning to keep pace. We do it again at 12:35PM tomorrow; A's go for the series win with Milone (9-9) vs. Hendriks (0-5). Milone has to be good tomorrow; for the first time, the A's have real competition for the starting jobs. I will be your host; see you at noon!