Nothing like having an ace in the hole, and it also doesn't hurt to have an offense that grinds out at bats as well as any team anywhere. And in the 2nd inning tonight, that was quite literally true.
Bartolo Colon, now 7-0 in 7 starts since turning 40, started the game by retiring the first 13 batters. For an inning, he was matched by 22 year rookie Shelby Miller, who needed just 10 pitches to retire the A's in the 1st inning. But in the bottom of the 2nd, Miller threw 51 pitches -- which is the most any pitcher has thrown, in any inning this year, anywhere.
Yoenis Cespedes opened the frame with a single to RF. Brandon Moss nearly pulled one into RF, robbed by a nice diving stop by 2Bman Matt Carpenter. Josh Donaldson, who frankly ought to be "All Star Josh Donaldson," opened the scoring with a sharp single up the middle to score Cespedes. Then Josh Reddick continued his hot hitting with a double into the RF corner. The rally was momentarily slowed by Stephen Vogt's long fly out to CF, bringing his major league career ledger to 0 for 32. But walks to Eric Sogard and Coco Crisp loaded the bases, and with the score 2-0 Seth Smith had maybe the game's pivotal at bat, running the count to 3-2, fouling off a tough borderline pitch, and then smoking a 2-run single up the middle to give the A's a 4-0 lead. Jed Lowrie's ground rule double capped off a 5-run inning that finally expired only thanks to a Cespedes line shot to SS to end the inning he had started.
For Shelby Miller, who entered play with a 2.35 ERA: 1.2 IP, 6 hits, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Meanwhile, while 51 pitches only got Miller 2 outs in the 2nd, Colon breezed through 8 innings on just 101 pitches. 70 strikes. Colon now sits at 11-2, 2.79 ERA with an All-Star berth now seeming almost inevitable. The only run he allowed came on a David Freese RBI single in the 5th, and he was never really in trouble.
Oh, how did the A's score their 6th and final run? That came, in the bottom of the 4th, on a long HR to RF by...Stephen Vogt. 1 for 35 never felt so good.
Now 47-34 at the halfway point in the season, the A's are on a pace to win 94 games. Sound familiar? Oakland will take a 3-game win streak, and a 9-2 interleague record, into tomorrow's tough matchup between Jarrod Parker and Adam Wainwright. Bring it on!