For 5 innings, the A's offense sleepwalked (slept-walk?) as if they hadn't woken up from last night's sleepwalking. 1 hit and 0 runs through 5 innings, even though Nick Tepesch looked truly pedestrian. Were the A's going to impersonate back-to-back zombies and throw away consecutive games during a relatively light portion of the schedule?
Apparently not. Trailing 1-0 on a 4th inning run, Oakland's bats came alive -- to put it mildly -- in the 6th & 7th innings. In each frame, the A's launched a pair of HRs. After a one-out double by Eric Sogard and a Coco Crisp ground ball, up stepped John Jaso to crush a 2-run HR into the RF seats. The next batter was Yoenis Cespedes and he went the other way with a drive that just kept carrying until it found a home in the RF bleachers as well. 3-1 A's.
Nate Adcock came on for his Rangers' debut in the 7th and was greeted by a Josh Donaldson rainmaker to right-center that looked, off the bat, like it was hit as high as it was hit deep. It turns out it was hit deeper than high, though, as it soared into the twice-aforementioned RF seats. Later in the inning it was Josh Reddick's turn and Reddick's was the blastiest of the four: A no-doubter into the upper deck in RF to make it 5-1.
Gray was not at his sharpest but he battled. 11 Rangers reached based in Gray's 6⅔ IP, including 4 BBs, 3 of which led off innings. Perhaps most telling was the number of times Gray delivered an errant pitch only to immediately stare into the ground in frustration. However, in keeping with his reputation Sonny was able to make big pitches when he needed to.
In the 1st, with one out Gray walked Elvis Andrus and surrendered a single to Alex Rios. It was an early crossroads for the A's with Adrian Beltre at the plate. In a different script, Beltre hits a 3-run HR, Texas jumps out to an early 3-0 lead, an the A's (ok, A's fans) panic. Instead, Gray's power-sinker induced a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning.
In Sonny's last inning, the 7th, he walked Leonys Martin to start the inning but quickly restored order by getting a DP off the bat of Robinson Chirinos. Good thing too because then next two hitters reached safely on seeing-eye singles past a diving Brandon Moss. On the second one, Sogard flagged it down and made an ill-advised throw that also happened to miss 1B by about 20 feet. That E-4 put runners at 2B and 3B and brought Dan Otero into the game. Andrus hit a chopper off the plate that Nick Punto calmly charged, waited for, and fired to 1B to end the inning.
The biggest hit all night had to be Jaso's blast, which put the A's in front 2-1 when they were trailing 1-0. Jaso seems like a popular guy for fans to want to trade in order to upgrade elsewhere and I just don't get that. With the A's down 1-0 and the tying run at 3B with 2 outs, my thought at the time was that there was literally no one I would rather have up in that spot.
Jaso can flat out hit RHP and is, make no mistake about it, a huge part of the A's league-best offensive production. After tonight he is hitting close to .300/.400/.500 against RHP and I will argue to my dying day (hopefully that's not too soon) that if he is on the 2013 post-season roster Oakland advances past the ALDS. So let's take a moment to fully appreciate John Jaso.
Tomorrow we'll appreciate Scott Kazmir, especially if he earns his 12th win just like Gray did tonight. Kazmir will be opposed by something they call a Miles Mikolas in a 4:05pm PDT start.