Back to back blowouts, baby.
The A's followed up their 8-1 demolition of the Los Angeles Angels with a 9-1 beatdown of the hapless Pads. Not even having to bat the pitcher three times (and no, the fact that Madison Bumgarner can homer off Clayton Kershaw does not make up for the 19,000,000 at bats that are needlessly sent to die every season) stopped the A's from flexing their muscles against this experiment in progress.
Chants of "Let's Go Oakland!" and "I believe in Stephen Vogt" rang through Petco Park. The A's fans traveled strong to this one, and many Athletics Nation veterans including tc.athletics91, lynnzgal, Torrey's Tacos made the trip to the beautiful ballpark in downtown San Diego. Their presence was heard, and seen. That green and gold pops against the vapid, empty blue that the Padres shamefully don.
(Seriously have the Padres had any great moments to cheer about in those pathetic unis? Is there any reason to operate in these affronts against their lively brown and yellow-clad history?)
Padres fans, on the other hand, alternated between dozing off and wandering around in a confused aimless stupor looking for a Chargers game, where they could be back in the familiar comforting scenario of being thoroughly outnumbered by Raiders fans in their home stadium.
To be fair, they were stunned by the firing of the second-longest tenured National League manager, Bud Black. Dave Roberts was thrust into the interim interim role, meaning Padres General Manager AJ Preller didn't actually have a plan when he pulled this off. I remember when Billy Beane fired his best bud Bob Geren. Bob Melvin was immediately hired and inserted into the manager role. That worked out nicely. Beane's quote at the time was something to the effect of, "We wouldn't have made this move if Bob Melvin wasn't available." He had a plan. Dave Roberts is making a plan, because he's about to be out of a job.
The A's are still technically the worst team in the AL. But this is not your garden variety cellar dweller. This team has fantastic starting pitching. Yeah, the Padres won the Tyson Ross for Andy Parrino trade, pretty handily.
"Why you gotta go there man?"
But the A's totally won the Derek Norris for Jesse Hahn trade. Hahn is a very solid pitcher, and Derek Norris is a walking reminder of the most sickening game in A's history. Bob Melvin had his boys running a lot today, because why not.
Running is what started the A's first rally, and it was former San Diego draftee Eric Sogard that kicked it off with a solid line drive in the third inning. He stole second base running through molasses because Norris bobbled an easy chance to throw him out, because of course he did.
(Are you as surprised by how much you can't stand this guy as I am? I loved this dude. I loved the lumberjack-ness, I hated that he was platooned, I loved when he sent Santiago Casilla to the cleaners, and now I feel queasy just looking at him and want him to fail miserably. That game really messed with me.)
Josh Reddick singled home Sogard, Ben Zobrist walked (first of four free bases for him) and Stephen Vogt snapped a skid with an RBI single. Brett Lawrie's swinging bunt brought home Zobrist from third, in a perfectly executed unintentional safety squeeze, and it was 3-0 A's. They failed to add on from there, but it was a solid start.
Jesse Hahn ended up giving the Padres a run right back on a walk and a deep drive by Will Venable, but he settled down and managed 6⅔ innings. Drew Pomeranz, used well as a LOOGY got Hahn out of a two on, two out jam. At this point it was 4-1 A's (the A's had managed to add on in the 5th thanks to another Zobrist walk, Vogt single, and Lawrie single).
This was still a tight game in the 8th. The A's had escaped some trouble, but there were two more bullpen innings to go. The fun started with a Marcus Semien walk against new pitcher Cory "who?" Mazzoni. Bob Melvin had the run and hit on, and that's what turned Billy Butler's tailor-made double play ball into a scorching grounder through the right side. Billy Burns followed up with the slowest possible seeing-eye single ever against a drawn-in infield. Somehow that ball went right up the middle and strolled into center field, blissfully unaware of its surroundings. It was 5-1 A's, but Mazzoni got two quick outs and almost limited the damage.
Zobrist followed with a screaming liner up the middle, that everyone in the non-Billy Butler category scores on. But Billy Butler was on second and so it ended up being bases loaded, two outs. And then Stephen Vogt smashed a no-doubt grand slam in the most cavernous stadium in the bigs, emphatically busting out of his slump in the grandest way possible. I still believe in Stephen Vogt, and so do you.
(Honestly Tyson Ross had no chance in this one. Did you see their infield? Their outfield defense? Their lineup? Matt Kemp at .249 with 2 homers? And the screwy manager situation? What a wack rebuild).
Eric O'Flaherty and Fernando Abad had a couple of uneventful innings to close it out, giving the A's their ninth win by seven runs or more this year. The A's actually lead the AL in blowouts. And they lead the AL in one-run losses. What a weird season.
Here's to three more (just one more with pitchers hitting) over this NL fodder and the kickoff of the annual interleague spark for the Athletics.