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Game #136: 1 Game Back! A's Score Every Which Way To Sweep Rays

Joe Maddon thought he would try as many different pitchers as possible, so the A's decided to score in as many creative ways as they could and the end result was a 5-1 victory, a sweep of Tampa Bay, and just 1 game between Oakland and Texas in the standings as the Rangers come to town.

"Tag me once, shame on you. Tag me twice, FML."
"Tag me once, shame on you. Tag me twice, FML."
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the least creative A's hitter was Coco Crisp, who led off the bottom of the 1st with a HR against Jamey Wright. Wright was making his first start since 2007 but it may as well have been a relief appearance considering he lasted only the first 1.2 IP. For Crisp, it was his 16th HR to tie his career high (set in 2005 with the Indians).

The only blemish on A.J. Griffin's record through 7 IP was a James Loney solo HR that tied the game 1-1 in the 2nd. It was the major league leading 33rd HR off of Griffin, but the A's RHP walked only 1 today and turned in an excellent performance.

How did the A's take the lead for keeps? In the 3rd with one out, Jed Lowrie dropped a bunt to 3B against the LHP Alex Torres. Actually Lowrie popped the bunt in the air to 3B but it fell on the grass, where Evan Longoria made a bare hand pickup and then fired the ball past 1B, the ball caroming down the RF line as Lowrie went all the way to 3B. Even though the Rays kept alternating LHPs and RHPs today, Bob Melvin never once pinch hit and his belief in the 9 he chose to start today kept paying dividends. Brandon Moss singled past the drawn-in infield to plate Lowrie and give the A's a 2-1 lead.

It stayed 2-1 all the way until the 7th inning. In the top of the 7th, Griffin's last inning, he ran out of gas with two outs. Wil Myers sizzled a double to left-center field and Desmond Jennings singled sharply to LF. Myers did not appear to get a very good break from 2B and he isn't a gazelle anyway, and it's unclear whether 3B coach Tom Foley was trying to suggest that he continue past 3B, hold at 3B, do a little of both?

Faced with an ambiguous half wave, half I'm-running-towards-the-plate-but-not-really-telling-you-to, Myers kept going as Yoenis Cespedes' throw was cut off and relayed to the plate by Josh Donaldson. Stephen Vogt blocked off the plate and tagged Myers on the helmet, but home plate umpire Tony Randazzo did not see the tag. Luckily, he did notice that Myers had not touched the plate. Vogt went back for a second tag and got the out call.

In the bottom of the 7th, Stephen vogted against any ambiguity at all. Left in to bat against a southpaw, he launched a Jake McGee fastball into the RF bleachers to give the A's a 3-1 lead.

Then in the 8th, Oakland tacked on 2 more. Moss walked, Cespedes stroked a nifty single to right-center and after an Alberto Callaspo strikeout, Daric Barton lined a solid single to RF to score Moss and move Cespedes to 3B. Eric Sogard, aiming to replicate his tweet-inducing safety squeeze, tried for 4 pitches to bunt but ultimately wound up with a 2-2 count and then a full count. Swinging away, Sogard chopped a slow bouncer between the mound and 1B -- almost identical to the squeeze bunt that caused Matt Garza to become unglued -- that scored Cespedes.

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook had solid return-to-form innings and in sweeping the Rays Oakland not only moves to within a game of 1st place (Texas lost 4-2 to Minnesota), but they also tie the season series with Tampa Bay, which could have home field implications should the A's and Rays wind up as the wild card teams. The A's want no part of that. Texas is coming to town and if the A's can win the series (after losing the first 4 to the Rangers) they will no longer be in the wild card picture -- because they will have at least a share of 1st place.