Big News: Donaldson's hand is sore. Not broken. Commence sigh of relief.
Do you remember July 28th of this year; the very height of standings porn, where we checked the scoreboard to find the A's a full six games up on the Rangers? Barely 10 days later, on August 7th, the lead was gone entirely; the Rangers had tied the A's for the Division lead. They wouldn't stop there; by August 23rd, the Rangers held a 3.5 game lead over the A's, and things were looking grim for our heroes. But something funny happened on the way to September; the A's took on the powerhouses of the American League and clawed back, and tonight they suddenly find themselves with a three-game lead in the AL West with one more to go in this series before taking on the Rangers head-to-head this weekend.
Victory screech indeed! After a sloppy game last night--where they A's dropped the opener to Minnesota, wasting another Texas loss--they showed up in full force tonight, scoring in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th innings tonight. The winning inning was obviously the fourth, where the A's dropped a 10-spot on the Twins' pitchers. Yet I'm tempering my effusive comments tonight. I'll consider this series a success after tomorrow's game, for despite scoring 18 runs in the blow-out tonight, they have only tied up this series. To fully complete the series win, and maximize their lead in the AL West before taking on the Rangers, they A's need to win tomorrow.
The great part of tonight's early lead was that it allowed the A's to rest all of their major players in preparation for the game tomorrow morning, including Josh Donaldson, who--in the most terrifying moment of the season so far--was hit on the hand by a pitch. Parrino pinch-ran for him in the fifth with the A's considerable lead, and we all hope that he will be okay. Once the starters left the game, Michael Choice, Andy Parrino, Jemile Weeks, Josh Reddick!, and Nate Freiman all had playing time in this one. Meanwhile, Milone, Figueroa, Neshek, and Scribner closed out the game for Sonny Gray, who barely made it through his five inning, due to the hours he had to wait between innings for the A's offensive carousel to stop spinning. Crisp, Donaldson, Lowrie, Moss, Cespedes, Barton, Smith and Vogt all had multiple hits in this one, and every singe A's starter scored a run and recorded an RBI. Crisp, Vogt and Lowrie all homered, and Reddick and Choice came about four inches combined from hitting home runs of their own. The A's were dominant from start to finish in this game, and look like the playoff team that they are shaping up to be.
Minnesota hung around for exactly three innings, as the A's slowly built a lead. Brandon Moss opened the second inning with a double, and Yoenis Cespedes doubled him in for the A's first run of eighteen. He's batting over .400 in September. Coco Crisp led off the third with another home run; his nineteenth of the year. Donaldson was hit by a pitch immediately after (and believe me, had I thought Pelfrey was good enough to hit him on purpose, I would have freaked out), and Moss drove him in. In punishment for Donaldson, the A's hung 7 earned runs on the Twins' starter.
The Twins closed the gap to 3-1 in the third, but the A's were having none of a close game. They literally ran away and hid in the fourth inning. Barton singled, Smith doubled him to third, and Vogt singled in the A's fourth run. Sogard singled in the fifth run. Coco singled to load the bases, and Donaldson, proving he wasn't broken, singled in the A's sixth run.
Then, things got really unusual. Jed Lowrie hit a double down the line, and it was thisclose on the line, but it was called foul. In something I've never seen in baseball, the umpires got together and reversed the call, sending two A's in to score, and sending Ron Gardenhire, understandably, to the showers. I was shocked at the reversal, but it happened, and the A's led 8-1, with five runs in the inning. They weren't even close to done. Cespedes would double in two more, Barton would single him in, and just for fun and kicks, Vogt would homer to cap off the 10-run inning, and give the A's a 13-1 lead.
After Sonny Gray made a brief appearance, the A's would pick right back up where they left off. Donaldson would single with one out and promptly leave the game to nurse his hand, and the run would score on Lowrie's homerun, giving the A's the 15-1 lead. It looked like Reddick followed suit, but his was ultimately ruled a double by replay.He would score on a sac fly by Barton for the A's 16th run.
Gray gave up a run in the fifth, but he did get through 5. The Twins scored one in the sixth (no one cared), and the A's tacked on two more in the ninth after Weeks reached on an error (the hustle!) and scored on a Moss double. Smith would single him in to join the RBI parade, and there you have it. Eighteen runs.
We're happy tonight, but it's not a series win until the A's come back out tomorrow and score some more runs to win the series, and face Texas with the maximum possible advantage. A big thank you to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the sweep. The game tomorrow will feature A.J. Griffin vs. Scott Diamond, and it's an early one. We'll see you back here at 10:00AM as the A's try to take the series. LET'S GO OAK-LAND!