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How The (2013 American League) West Was Won AN Style - In June

The A's opened June after the opener of the A's/White Sox series, one that the A's would eventually sweep. They won the second game in true walk-off style, Alex Hall with the call: You know that you're rooting for a good team when you can watch them win a ballgame and still be disappointed in their performance. It's the kind of spoiled, entitled response that can only come from a fan of a quality ballclub, and I feel like a giant crybaby just for thinking it. Don't get me wrong; a win is a win, and I'm absolutely happy that the A's pulled this one off. However, it seemed like this was a battle of who could do more to lose the game, and the A's technically lost that battle by securing the victory on Josh Reddick's walk-off walk in the 10th. They would sweep the next day, as many bowls of cereal were given out. I don't like to brag, but the title says it all: WE HAVE A SWEEP, PEOPLE! The A's, who are rolling on a red-hot train right now, complete the weekend sweep of the White Sox , holding the Sox to just 3 hits today, and just 3 runs in the entire series, as Jarrod Parker continues his masterful turn-around this season. Coco Crisp ran his way to both of the A's runs, and Balfour slammed the door yet again in the ninth. With the three-game sweep firmly in hand, the A's moved to 10 games over the .500 mark (34-24), just two games behind the Texas Rangers.

Then the A's flew to Milwaukee, a rare appearance indeed, to play the Brewers. This game is wildly know as the one where Tommy Milone got two hits. Billy Frijoles with the recap: If the A's make the World Series, Tommy Milone will be the A's secret weapon. The A's starter came through in a big way tonight, throwing seven innings of two-run ball and smacking two legit singles (off two different pitchers!) to lead the A's to a 10-2 romp over the Brewers. The A's nearly pulled out the second game, as well, but in the first of some bullpen struggles, they couldn't hold off the Brewers. Ah, if you only knew, Lev Facher. This was the A's worst loss so far, but pretty much a good percentage of August can outdo it. Cespedes did hit two home runs in this one, but he couldn't save the 'pen. This may well be the worst loss of the year — blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning to one of baseball's worst teams isn't going to cut it. I'd bet that Doolittle buys Griffin dinner tonight. The A's would win the series the next day as Alex Hall makes a six-pack joke: Drink it down, Athletics Nation. Oakland has secured yet another series victory, and this one went down oh-so-smooth. Last night, Sean Doolittle committed a party foul by allowing a bad team to come back in the late innings and snatch victory from the claws of defeat. Today, however, Bartolo Colon chugged through seven quick innings of work while Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss helped the A's score a 6-pack of runs en route to a victory in the rubber match against Milwaukee's best. After taking 2 out of 3 from the Brewers, the A's had trimmed Texas' lead to just 1.5 games as they headed into Chicago.

Winning in the Windy City, the A's finally retook the lead from Texas, and vaulted themselves into first place in the American League West, making a bid to stay there. Of course, we know they didn't; the roller-coaster was just getting started, but at least they hung around long enough to be in the position. They would win the first game against the White Sox, the day of the draft. Alan Torres with the call: As the newest crop of "Baby A’s" were being hatched by Beane, Kubota, and others, the A’s faced the same team they faced last weekend, the Chicago White Sox. Dan Straily would face a team in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career, and turned in an okay start. Over 7 innings, the 4th consecutive start in which an A’s starter reached that point in the game, he allowed 6 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3. Of the 4 runs he allowed, 3 were with two outs in the 3rd inning. Meanwhile, White Sox starter Jose Quintana also allowed 4 runs, but allowed them in spurts; specifically, he allowed 3 solo HRs of the bats of Yoenis Cespedes (twice) and Josh Reddick. The A's would win the series with a win the following night, as baseballgirl explains: Rarely can a baseball game be summed up in two plays, but tonight has the good fortune of being one of those nights. Frustrated all night by Chris Sale, the A's offense could only manage five hits, but boy did they make them count. A grand slam by Josh Donaldson--the A's first on the year--and a homerun-robbing catch by Josh Reddick in the bottom of the ninth to preserve Grant Balfour's streak and the A's win would be the story of the night as the A's and Jarrod Parker win yet again. Even with the 2-0 start, the A's could only managed to split the series in Chicago, falling flat in their third game, right in the middle of Sean Doolittle's struggle-stretch. Remember that? Me neither. I hosted that game, as well: Well, it's bound to happen sometime. The A's can't win every game. But interestingly enough, in the A's last 22 games, the club has only lost four games, and two of them can be directly attributed to Doolittle. It isn't so much one run, as it is the bunches of runs, and today was his fourth poor outing in his last five. Today, with a little help from a bad call, he turned a 1-1 game into a 4-1 loss, very reminiscent of last week, when he sent the game against the Brewers to extra innings by giving up another 3 runs in a game the A's would eventually lose, and I really do wonder if something is going on. The first run he allowed today was a bad umpiring call; the runner never should have been on base, but he was hit hard again after that. The A's would end up with a series split as they drop two in a row. Nico, hilariously, with the call: Oh the south side of Chicago Is the baddest part of town And if you go down there you better just beware of a man named -- Hector Santiago? With the loss, the A's dropped again to second place, just in time to fly home to face the Yankees.

With our gift of hindsight as we recap these games, we can see that the three game series in Oakland stands up as the three games that perhaps the Yankees needed to stay in the pennant race the last week of the season. Clearly, there were a lot of other factors, but the fact remains: The A's swept the Yankees at home in June (capped off by another long extra inning game), and they, not New York, are playing in October. Billy Frijoles brought you the first game: The game had the makings of a potential pitchers duel between Bartolo Colon and Sabathia. Colon started off with a scary 27-pitch first inning that included a very uncharacteristic two walks. However, he was able to work his way out of the jam unscathed, and for the rest of the way held up his end of the bargain. Coco Crisp ensured that Sabathia wouldn't do the same, crushing the second pitch he saw for a laser home run straight into the left field BBQ Terrace. It was his 8th home run of the year. The second game was hosted by baseballgirl and featured a lot of Brandon Moss: The magical season of 2013 rolls on, picking up steam as the A's stay hot, hot, hot with just another win tonight, beating the Yankees, winning the series, and grabbing first place all for themselves following a Rangers' loss. Dan Straily holds the Yankees to just three hits, while Brandon Moss hits two homeruns for most of the offense. The A's will go for another sweep tomorrow; don't miss it! And then came the A's second-longest game of the year, only eclipsed by the 19-inning affair in Oakland. This one went 18 and ended after the A's beat Mariano Rivera in his swan song in Oakland.; the game called by Alan Torres: Yawn. Just your average unscheduled doubleheader today, as the A’s completed a four three game sweep of the Yankees at home. Jesse Chavez turned in a miraculous 5.2 innings of shutdown relief, and Nate Freiman delivered the late-inning heroics against Mariano Rivera, one of his boyhood idols. It is the second game this year that the A’s have won in double regulation. With the sweep, the A's took over first place, and added a two-game lead.

Then the Mariners came into town, a thorn in the A's side that they would really like to excise in this last series of the year. The A's dropped the first game, as baseballgirl explains: Despite a terrific night for Chris Young in the lead-off spot, replacing the banged up Coco Crisp, the A's are unable to muster any other sort of offense, and drop the one game they needed to win against the Mariners. With Felix and Iwakuma starting tomorrow and Sunday, things look bleak for our heroes. But, as they say, that's why they play the games. As Nico laments Henry Blanco, the A's were losing two in a row to lose the series to Seattle: There are a few things you need to know about Henry Blanco. The first is that he looks like he could easily pass for 67 years old. In fact, if Blanco told you he was 67 you would probably think to yourself, "Hmm...He hasn't aged well." The A's would win the finale; however, on the strength of Josh Reddick, as Alex Hall tells us: Well, it turns out that the A's totally can win 'em all. Or at least, the vast majority of 'em. They went on to post crooked numbers in the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th, ended Hisashi Iwakuma's scoreless streak at 31.2 innings, and cruised to a 10-2 victory to avoid a sweep at the hands of the 3rd-place Mariners. This club does not panic when it falls behind. The starters are able to settle down after allowing early runs and keep the team in the game, and the lineup is able to patiently mount comebacks one run at at time. Despite only winning one of three in the series, the A's actually gained a game on Texas, who ended their own series with a six-game losing streak, just in time for another A's/Rangers head-to-head match-up.

With an opportunity to create some space in their lead of the West, the A's headed to Arlington for a four-game series, and well, they didn't really show up, losing 3 of the 4 to allow Texas to shave off most of the AL West lead. The A's lost the first one, prompting Billy Frijoles to hate Texas: Games like this are why the late, great A's broadcaster Bill King famously refused to travel to Arlington. In a game that was billed as a matchup of potential rookie of the year candidates, both starting pitchers exited early while Nelson Cruz and the Rangers bullpen did just enough to escape with a victory, snapping their six game losing streak. The won the second, as the A's beat Yu Darvish again, says Lev Facher: The A's put some distance between themselves and the Rangers in the early AL West race — they now lead the division by three full games. Jarrod Parker allows just two runs on three hits through seven innings, while Darvish isn't as effective as Yu'd expect. The A's could have increased the lead, but they folded like a cheap deck of cards, says Alan Torres in the third game: Nothing really went right for the A’s today. They fell behind early on a Lance Berkman home run, briefly took the lead back on a Chris Young home run to center field, then coughed up 7 consecutive runs. Tommy Milone allowed too many hits and struck out too few Rangers to be successful tonight. They will attempt to salvage a series tie tomorrow morning. Looking for a split as the best case scenario, the A's also lost the finale. The report was brought to you by Alex Hall: All I want for Christmas is an RBI. With that flat performance, the A's led the Rangers by one game, as they flew to Seattle.

The Mariners really played the A's well this year, taking another 2 of 3 at home against our green and gold. The A's won the first game, baseballgirl giving us hope: The A's hit four more homeruns in tonight's game as they recorded a hard-fought and much-needed win in Seattle against a tough Mariners' team. Bartolo Colon continued his campaign for the All Star Game and the Cy Young as he finished another gem, only allowing a homerun. but a massive bullpen implosion lost the second game for the A's; also called by baseballgirl: I don't wanna talk about it. Seriously, I really don't want to talk about it. What else can I tell you? The A's rallied from a 2-0 deficit to turn it into a 5-2 lead, practically had the win in hand, and they blew it ten ways to Sunday with some really, really shaky bullpen work. The Mariners rallied against Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook, scoring 3 and 2 runs respectively off our usually solid 'pen. The only shining moments of the bullpen came from Jesse Chavez, who replaced Dan Straily in the fourth inning and shut the Mariners down, in line for another relief win until Blevins and Cook showed up, and Doolittle, who shut down the Mariners after Cook exited the game. But barn door, horse, and all that jazz. When all was said and done, the A's lose 7-5 in a game they should have won, and are frankly lucky to be tied for first place the way they have played this week.They would drop the next game--and the series--to fall back into second place. Nico tried to make us feel better: Kendrys Morales' pinch-hit 3-run HR off of Grant Balfour, giving Seattle a 6-3 win in 10 innings, capped the A's road trip in style: A 2-5 journey that saw them lose games started by Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Josh Lindblom, Aaron Harang, and Jeremy Bonderman. but it didn't help. The A's would then welcome in the Reds for a quick 2-game series against a National League team we haven't seen very often.

And, well, we swept. baseballgirl with the first game: Our A's are back in the win column (and in a virtual tie for first place!) as their offense made the best use of seven hits ever, turning those hits into seven runs. Both starting pitchers were terrible tonight; neither made it out of the fifth inning, and it's really only a matter of baseball luck that Milone only managed to give up the three runs he did. and baseballgirl with the second: The A's sweep the brief series against the Reds as they win again today, this time on the back of A.J. Griffin, who did nothing more than toss a complete game, two-hit shutout; in easily the highlight of his baseball career.With the sweep, the A's were still tied for first place.

The A's would close out the month with the Cardinals, another team they don't play often, and would win the series, dropped just a half game out of first place, right around the halfway mark of the season. Nico reported the first game: 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 Alex Hall with the second, as a terrifying moment happened when Parker went down: The afternoon started out promising, as a full house packed the Coliseum for Coco Lean Bobbletorso Day. A pair of aces took the mound, with Jarrod Parker facing Adam Wainwright, and it looked like we would be treated to a classic pitcher's duel. Both starters were dealing through the first three innings.Oakland's visions of victory were flushed down the toilet in the 4th inning, however, when Parker went down with a hamstring injury. With two outs, he threw a pitch to Allen Craig and crumpled straight to the ground, clutching his right leg. He raised back up to his feet, but Oakland made the smart decision by calling Parker's bluff and going all-in with their bullpen for the rest of the game. That's just the luck of the draw, folks; better to be cautious in June than to gamble with Parker's long-term health. Nico closed the series--and the month of June--with a solid win, and started the campaign for the All-Star Josh Donaldson: In the bottom of the 7th, Josh Donaldson gave the bullpen an insurance run after watching Trevor Rosenthal, and his 95-98MPH fastball, blow away Cespedes and Moss. Undaunted, Donaldson picked on a fastball away and drove it into the right-center field seats. Earlier, he also made a tumbling catch on the tarp of a foul popup, and saved a run with a diving stop for an inning ending 5-3 putout. All-Star game, anyone? The A's would finish June 16-11, just out of first place.