The Tampa Bay Rays had lost a single home game in 2012 heading into this weekend’s series against the Oakland Athletics. Most would assume that would doom the A’s to a best case scenario of maybe salvaging 1 game of the 3 and avoiding a sweep. Call it what you will, but the A’s had a pretty good thing going on during this east coast swing, maybe it’s magic, or mojo, or momentum, but the boys in the white cleats are doing some serious work on the AL East.
Tommy Milone (4-2, 4.42 ERA) was uncharacteristically wild in the 1st inning, walking 3, hitting a batter, and ultimately surrendering 4 runs before a 6-4-3 double play bailed him out. Normally, this would be grounds for most A’s fans to shut off the TV or radio and go out and enjoy a beautiful Bay Area day, and many of them may have done that. But those who stuck with the A’s were handsomely rewarded.
TURNING POINT: A sharp line drive RBI single by Yoenis Cespedes in the top of the 3rd inning, followed by a well placed jam shot by Petaluma’s own Jonny Gomes got the A’s on the board by cutting the lead in half. But Brandon Inge, occupier of the former black hole known as A’s starting 3rd baseman unloaded on a 3-1 fastball from Rays phenom lefty Matt Moore and put the A’s ahead 5-4, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.
ON THE HILL: Tommy Milone fought through 5 innings, giving up 5 ER, on 5 hits, with 4 walks, and a single strikeout enabling him to qualify for the win. This will be balanced out when he takes a hard luck loss at some point on a gem performance, welcome to Oakland Tommy. The bullpen (Blevins, Cook, Fuentes, Norberto) took the reigns for the final 4 innings, giving up just a single and 3 walks without a single Ray touching home. What has been a major question mark throughout this season has seemingly fallen into place (knock on wood).
AT THE PLATE: Brandon Inge at the very least gave us a glimpse of what most teams expect to get from their starting 3B, going 1-2 with 2 walks, a homerun, a sacrifice fly, tallying 4 RBI in the process. Jonny Gomes showed his former squad just what they’ve been missing with his aforementioned RBI bloop single, coupled with a missile down the left field line to plate another. Daric Barton saw fit to swing the bat and hit it all the way to the warning track (I kid) for a 2-run double following Gomes’ own double and an IBB to Babe… I mean Brandon Inge. Eric Sogard, proud owner of the .148 AVG, and Anthony Recker pretty emphatically demonstrated why they were batting 8th and 9th in today’s lineup going 1-8 with 6 runners stranded between the two (5 for Recker).
FINAL THOUGHTS: The pitching wasn’t there, but the bats managed to pick up the slack. The Rays are good, really really good, and the A’s should feel really confident in their ability to win after this game, this series, this week. They were dealt a major gut punch by the Baltimore Orioles last weekend, so to see the team regroup and take advantage of a train wreck team in Boston, and simply out play an extremely talented Rays team at the Trop is very encouraging. Going into the trip most fans probably thought 4-5 would have been acceptable, so switching it up and having a winning road trip at 5-4 is really sweet. An up and coming Toronto Blue Jays team will travel to the O.co Coliseum for a quick 2 game series (I mean 2 games within 24 hours quick), the test for this young team continues, lets see if they’re up to the challenge.
Topics: Anthony Recker, Brandon Inge, Brian Fuentes, Daric Barton, Eric Sogard, Jerry Blevins, Jonny Gomes, Jordan Norberto, Matt Moore, Oakland A's, Oakland Athletics, Promotions, Ryan Cook, Tampa Bay Rays, Tommy Milone, Toronto Blue Jays, Yoenis Cespedes