There were many heroes in today's 7-3 win over Cleveland, ranging from Alberto Callaspo's "goat (key error) to hero (key HR)" routine to "the entire A's bullpen" (4.1 IP scoreless), but perhaps no key contributor needed a big game more than Chris Young. Denied on the homestand by a foul pole and a Robbie Grossman, Young singled in a run, hit the tie breaking HR, and made a circus catch -- I hope they were taking notes next door -- to lead Oakland.
The A's scored early on Scott Kazmir with 2 in the 1st, as out of the gate Jed Lowrie singled and Derek Norris doubled. Lowrie scored on Josh Donaldson's bouncer to SS and with two outs Young delivered a solid single to knock in Norris.
Tommy Milone looked good early, not so good later, betrayed only by the long ball early, then by his defense later. Ryan Raburn's HR to CF made it 2-1 in the 2nd but outside of that Milone was very sharp through 3 IP. The A's got him an insurance run when Donaldson singled home a run in the bottom of the 3rd, but Milone labored in the 4th and 5th and lasted only 4.2 IP.
Leading 3-1, Milone loaded the bases in the 4th but struck out Yan Gomes to turn back the Tribe, and by all rights he should have gotten through the 5th unscathed. With one out, Drew Stubbs hit a routine two-hopper to 3B to Callaspo that Callaspo threw wide of 1B. Nate Freiman doesn't so much stretch for bad throws as he attempts to collapse on them and subdue them. This is a practice that works better in law enforcement than in baseball. Nick Swisher bounced out for what should have been the 3rd out, but instead moved Stubbs to 3B with 2 out. At this point Milone didn't do his part, serving up an RBI single to Jason Kipnis, who then stole 2B on Milone's high leg kick and scored the tying run on a Carlos Santana double into the LF corner.
Enter the A's bullpen, and exit the Indians in the scoring column. Dan Otero finished the 5th, worked a scoreless 6th, and retired Stubbs on one pitch to start the 7th, lowering his ERA to 1.42. Sean Doolittle finished the 7th, thanks in part to a terrific throw by Yoenis Cespedes on Nick Swisher's blast off the LF wall, cutting Swisher down trying for 2B. Ryan Cook stir-fried a scoreless 8th, and Grant Balfour stunned the baseball world by working an efficient 1-2-3 9th.
Balfour did not get a save, however, because the A's scored 4 unanswered runs for their bullpen. With one out in the 5th, Chris Young launched a HR that was, if you can believe it, both fair and uncatchable. One out later, Callaspo atoned for his costly error by tomahawking a HR to LF, just over the leaping try of Michael Brantley -- if ever there was a near recreation of the Robbie Grossman catch, this was it.
Leading 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th the A's tacked on a pair of insurance runs, gifted by Swisher. With Callaspo at 2B and 2 outs, Derek Norris hit a routine bouncer to SS that Asdrubal Cabrera flipped to 1B in plenty of time, and Swisher simply missed it. E3, Callaspo home, Norris to 2B, where he came around on Donaldson's single -- his 3rd RBI of the day.
All in all, a good day for the green and gold. With 2 hits off Kazmir today, Norris continues to punish LHP and has quietly brought his season OBP right up near .340. Callaspo had 3 hits, Lowrie and Young 2 apiece, Donaldson the 3 RBI, Cespedes the great throw.
The A's certainly got some help from Seattle this weekend, as the Mariners took 2 out of 3 from the Rangers. Seattle comes to town starting tomorrow night, with Aaron Harang matched up against Jarrod Parker. The A's got their 70th win today, 70-53. The Rangers? 71-53. Who will be left standing at the end? Drop by later for analysis of the AL West race as it goes down to the wire...