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Game #146: A’s Roll To Another Victory, 8-2

Behind another big third inning, the A’s took a lead they would both add on to and never relinquish. A.J. Griffin had an impressive outing – but of course allowing a solo HR, his only blemish – over 7 one-run innings. In winning two of three games in Minneapolis and now up 3.5 on the Rangers, the A’s are in prime position to really make it hard for Texas to overtake them for the division lead.

Hannah Foslien

As I wrote in the preview, Griffin has had three pretty starts in a row.  Today, he bested all those outings over 7 innings of two-hit, one-run baseball, striking out 8 and walking only one.  He started out with 3 perfect innings, striking out 6 of the first 9 batters he faced, including the side in the second inning.  Twins starter Scott Diamond started strong himself, retiring the first 7 batters he faced.  With his reputation as a strike-thrower, it could have been a long afternoon for the A's.  Of course, given how they've been swinging the bats, it seemed to be an inevitability that they would soon break out.

That's exactly what they did in the third.  A one out Derek Norris double was followed by a line drive single by Daric Barton, putting runners at second and third for Coco Crisp.  He grounded to short in what looked like a sure double play ball, but with his speed he beat it out to score Norris.  As it would happen, this turned out to be a pivotal play, as after Josh Donaldson walked, Jed Lowrie singled to center to make it 2-0.  Yoenis Cespedes then capped the two-out rally with a triple to center field on a potentially catchable ball that Alex Presly decided to take a Rajai Davis-like route on.   The inning ended on a Alberto Callaspo ground out.

The Twins threatened in the fourth with Josmil "Ford" Pinto singling and Brian Dozier working a walk off of Griffin, working from the stretch for the first time in the game.  But, as a team, when you're going bad, you're going bad.  Oswaldo Arcia, who had homered once in the series already (and would add another later), lined right to Callaspo, who threw a slider to Barton that he had to corral to his right.  He did make the sprawling play though, keeping the Twins off the board.  In the fifth, the A's would tack on another, as Crisp reached on a Trevor Plouffe error, stole second base, then was plated on Josh Donaldson's single.  Crisp's steal was his 19th on the season; along with his 19 home runs, he's very likely to be a 20-20 guy for the first time in his career.  Donaldson, playing a day after being hit in the hand yesterday, showed no ill effects today (but is playing somewhat banged up, with the quad issue from the weekend, as well).  Indeed, he would reach base three times today and pushing his average to .299.  The Twins would go quietly in their halves of the fifth and sixth, going six up and six down.  In the A's half of the six, they would add a single run on a Chris Young triple and Josh Reddick sacrifice fly to make it 6-0.  With his two hits on the day, Young finished at .201 and above the Mendoza line for the first time since all time.

Griffin would end his afternoon after 7, but of course giving up the aforementioned obligatory solo home run to Arcia.  It wouldn't be a real Griffin start without one of those.  Reddick and Young would combine for runs again in the eighth for the A's, as they had a double and homer, respectively, to make it 8-1 and capping their scoring.  The Twins would get a meaningless eighth inning run off of Dan Otero, and Grant Balfour, pitching in a low-leverage situation, would come in to close it out.  Like Griffin, he had some work to do to finish off his outing with a personal touch.  He allowed two singles, wild pitched a baserunner to third, let Josh Willingham advance on a defensive indifference, and then got Plouffe to groundout to end the game.  Luckily, with a seven-run lead at that point, he didn't really get our blood pressures up.  At least, not too much.

So, after losing the first game, the A's rebounded to win the series convincingly.  At this point in the season, any A's win or Texas loss is a good thing.  Heading into a big series in Arlington, the A's have all the confidence in the world, and Texas is reeling after a series sweep to Pittsburgh at home.  Stay tuned for what will surely be a great series no matter what.