You know things are going well when Billy "Speed is My Middle Name" Burns chips in with a leadoff triple and scores on a two out single
You know things are going even better when Billy "Somehow I Have Five Career Stolen Bases" Butler chips in with a leadoff triple and scores on a medium-depth fly ball.
It was just one of those kinds of days for the Athletics, where next to nothing could go wrong. Sure, Marcus Semien made the kind of awful error we haven't seen from him in weeks. Sure, Drew Pomeranz had some more control issues. But even those detriments were overshadowed, as Semien made a very fine play to start the top of the eighth inning and Pomeranz tallied two big strikeouts and five outs total in spite of the walks.
Things seemed to be off to an inauspicious start as the third batter of the game, Nolan Arenado, fouled a Jesse Hahn fastball straight back into the mask of home plate umpire Tom Hallion. Hallion had to be removed from the game and replaced after a lengthy delay.
Despite the concerning start, the game was fairly quiet until the bottom of the second. Leading off the inning, Billy Butler mashed a fastball to deep left, and left fielder Rafael Ynoa misjudged it, crashing into the outfield wall. He hit the ground hard and stayed there, the ball rolling towards the left field foul line. By the time center fielder Charlie Blackmon made his way to the baseball, Billy Butler was standing on third base with the his first triple since August 2012. Three batters later, he scored on Eric Sogard's medium-depth fly ball, thanks to an awful throw in from Ynoa. Just like that, Billy Butler's wheels had given the A's a 1-0 lead.
Billy Burns, not wanting to be shown up by the bigger Billy, led off the bottom of the third with a triple of his own, into the right field corner. After Stephen Vogt and Ben Zobrist left A's fans groaning with consecutive grounders to second, Josh Reddick lined a single into right field to score Burns and double the A's lead to 2-0.
The Rockies answered right back in the top of the fourth. Back-to-back two-out doubles from Ben Paulsen and Nick Hundley (the second of the broken bat variety) led to the Rockies' only run of the day, despite seemingly constant traffic on the bases. Jesse Hahn threw six innings, and despite four hits, two walks, and the aforementioned Semien error, he held the Rockies to just the one run, while striking out six.
In the bottom of the fifth, the A's staged a two out rally of their own. Burns' one out double, followed by back-to-back two-out four pitch walks to Ben Zobrist and Josh Reddick, set the stage for a classic Country Breakfast RBI single to right. The A's would tack on another run of insurance in the seventh inning as some shoddy Rockies defense helped Mark Canha score Ben Zobrist, and that was all they would need.
Pomeranz got five outs, and Clippard nailed down the four out save in dominant fashion (four batters, two strikeouts, two pop-outs) and the A's notched the series win against the last-place Rockies. It was as close to a must-win as you can have on July 1st, and the A's executed and won. While beating the Rockies is not quite the most impressive feat, it sure is better than the alternative.
The Mariners come to town tomorrow night, and southpaws duel, as likely trade chip Scott Kazmir takes on the young Cuban Roenis Elias. The A's will look to end their struggles against left-handed starting pitching and start a new win streak. Game time is 7:05 P.M., PST. Let's go Oakland!