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Game #68: Lights out, great pitching, great defense, A's win!

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Dahhhhhhhhhhh . . . Athletics! Win!

Don't worry, they'll turn the lights back on soon.
Don't worry, they'll turn the lights back on soon.
Jason O. Watson

The Athletics evened the weekend series against the New York Yankees, defeating them 5-1 with yet another superlative pitching performance and excellent plate approaches by many of the Athletics' hitters, sprinkled with some key clutch hits.

It will be a challenge to avoid using the phrase "lights out" during this recap. SFGate already has "A's offense powers through outage to beat Yankees," the wrap went with "Lights-out: Kazmir stays hot, cools off Yanks." The Associated Press went with the matter-of-fact "A's beat Yankees 5-1 after light outage delay."

Early Dealing

Both Scott Kazmir and Hiroki Kuroda started this evening with a one-two-three first inning; Kazmir in nine pitches, Kuroda in 10.

Kazmir continued mowing down batters until he walked the number nine Yankee, third baseman Kelly Johnson. Left fielder Brett Gardner advanced Johnson to third base when The Captain, Derek Jeter, came to bat. On Kazmir's first pitch, Jeter grounded a ball several steps to shortstop Andy Parrino's left for what should have been an easy toss to second base or at worst a not too difficult throw to Brandon Moss waiting at first. Instead, Parrino airmailed Moss, and Johnson scored an unearned run.

Mr. Clutch, Eric Sogard

In the bottom of the second, the Athletics began to work counts. Yoenis Cespedes walked on seven pitches, Stephen Vogt got the count in his favor to 2-and-1 before singling to right, Andy Parrino worked a six-pitch walk, setting up Eric Sogard with the bases loaded. Sogard simply lined a single up the middle to score two to take what was to that point a 2-0 lead before the Yankees' unearned run in the third.

When the lights, go down, in the Coliseum

In the middle of the fourth, the umpires realized the left field light standard above Mount Davis was not on.

The umpires delayed the game, with a good chance that sunlight would fall below acceptable levels, though the right field lights were on.  Curiously, it's not that they failed in the middle of the game, they were never on in the first place.

After 38 minutes, the lights turned back on and the game resumed with Hiroki Kuroda tossing a one-two-three bottom of the fourth inning, the A's leading 2-1.

Making it work

If you look at Scott Kazmir's final line, with just two strikeouts and three walks over his six innings this is probably one of his worst performances not cut short by a too-sensitive home plate umpire. Some good infield defense tonight made it work for the Athletics and Scott Kazmir tonight after the lighting delay. In the fourth, with Brian McCann aboard on a lead-off single, Yangervis Solarte grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

In the fifth, Kelly Johnson doubled to lead off and reached third on Brett Gardner's ground out. With one out and the infield in, Derek Jeter bounced a Baltimore chop on a run-on-contact play to Eric Sogard, and Mr. Clutch, Eric Sogard, threw home without hesitation to nail Johnson at the plate. The play saved the A's 2-1 lead headed to the bottom of the fifth.

Putting it away

Mr. Clutch, Eric Sogard, walked to lead off the fifth. Coco Crisp bunted a beauty that might have rolled foul of the third base line had Kelly Johnson not picked it up with no chance to throw Crisp out. Sogard and Crisp moved up 90 feet on John Ryan Murphy's first passed baseball, and another on John Jaso's grounder to Brian McCann, playing first base for the late scratch Mark Teixiera. With Donaldson batting, Crisp scored on John Ryan Murphy's second passed ball. The A's led 4-1 after five.

In the A's half of the sixth, Craig Gentry ,in place of Stephen Vogt, faced the left-handed David Huff. He laid down a beautiful bunt past the first base side of the pitcher's mound, reaching without a doubt. Andy Parrino then doubled down the left field line, scoring Gentry, making it 5-1 Athletics.

The A's bullpen took over after Scott Kazmir's fifth consecutive quality start. Kazmir's ERA of 2.05 now places him second behind Masahiro Tanaka at 2.02. Dan Otero did his Dan Otero thing, facing six and putting out six. He handed a four-run lead over to Sean Doolittle, who finished the game with two pop-ups and a lazy fly to Coco Crisp to extend Doolittle's league-leading active scoreless innings streak to 20⅓ innings. After Kelly Johnson's lead-off double in the fifth, A's pitching faced fifteen batters and got fifteen outs. If only there was some turn of phrase to describe that sort of pitching.

Missing in action

Josh Donaldson extended his hitless streak to 0-for-his-last-31, and the frustration visibly showed. Donaldson, as usual, seemed displeased with a close strike three in the fifth inning. In the seventh, Donaldson popped out behind the plate on an 0-1 pitch, and offered some extra words about that fifth inning strikeout to home plate umpire Hal Gibson III, and despite Melvin's best efforts to escort Donaldson back to the dugout to retrieve his glove, Donaldson continued and was deservedly thrown out for arguing balls and strikes. Great hitters have weird weeks, so it's tough to watch him struggle, because you know he wants to be playing well.

John Jaso also went 0-for-4, taking him to 0-for-his-last-21 now. His grounder to first in the fifth inning did score a run, however. Jed Lowrie struck out three times and lined out to left.

Brandon Moss, on the other hand, started to break out of a 1-for-18 slump since hitting a grand slam against Baltimore last Sunday. He had two hits and a walk tonight.

What's next?

The A's play underneath the Sun tomorrow at 1:05 pm in the series rubber match, leading the American League by 2.0, the Los Angeles Angels by 3.5, and the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers by 7.0. Jesse Chavez takes the bump for Oakland against New York's Vidal Nuno.