It was a game that took a while to get going, as far as the offense was concerned, but once it did things got real interesting. Opposing starters Tyson Ross and Ross Ohlendorf traded hitless innings through the first 3 frames Saturday afternoon, and it wasn’t until Seth Smith took Ohlendorf deep in the bottom of the 4th that either team got into the hit column. A high pitch count eliminated most of the potential drama as Tyson Ross didn’t give up his first hit until 2 outs in the 6th inning. Ross walked 4 in his 6 innings of work and was approaching the 100 pitch mark as he finished the 6th, so even if he hadn’t allowed the 2 run homer to Carlos Quentin there was little chance he would have been able to carry his no-hit bid much further. But as the slight flirtation with history faded away, the true drama of today’s game began to take shape.
TURNING POINT: The A’s had staked themselves to a reasonably comfortable 3-0 lead until the aforementioned Quentin homer cut it to 3-2. Sean Doolittle came in to pitch the 7th inning in relief of Ross and immediately got himself into trouble by giving up a leadoff double to Yonder Alonso, a John Baker walk followed by a bases clearing Will Venable double over Collin Cowgill’s head in right field put the Padres ahead. So it was up to Alex Hinshaw to deliver the all important shut down inning, he promptly walked Cliff Pennington on 4 pitches giving Manager Bud Black cause to pull him in favor of funky lefty Joe Thatcher. A line out by Coco Crisp, a single by Jemile Weeks, and a fielder’s choice grounder by Josh Reddick set the table for the game’s deciding at bat. In a peculiar move, Bob Melvin pinch hit Jonny Gomes for the hot hitting Seth Smith, but before Gomes could swing the bat Cliff Pennington took matters into his own well… feet. In another peculiar managerial move, Joe Thatcher was replaced mid at bat for Luke Gregerson. Gregerson didn’t fare any better though, he bounced a slider that got away from John Baker behind the plate, and Cliff Pennington made the split second decision to break for home and scored before anyone had time to recover. That tied the game, but Jonny Gomes still had a bat and he intended to use it. A 3-1 pitch from Gregerson was rocketed into the left field bleachers for a 2 run homerun that gave the A’s a 6-4 lead that they would eventually hold onto for the victory.
ON THE HILL: Tyson Ross did only give up the 1 hit in his 6 innings of work, but he definitely did struggle with his control with 4 walks, he also notched 6 strikeouts. Sean Doolittle stole the win from Ross by coughing up the lead in his 1 inning of work and then being the pitcher of record when the A’s took the lead back, he had a rather ugly line allowing 2 ER on 2 hits and a walk in his 1 inning of work. Grant Balfour maneuvered around a walk and a hit in the 8th inning as Brandon Moss was nearly decapitated by a Yonder Alonso line drive that he managed to snare and fall backwards onto 1st base for the inning ending double play. Then the closer committee came AKA Ryan Cook came in to slam the door shut with a 1-2-3 save and 2 strikeouts.
AT THE PLATE: Jonny Gomes had the big splash of the night, but Seth Smith also went deep to continue his hot hitting of late. Collin Cowgill continued to impress with his hustle, beating out an infield single as well as driving in a run in the 4th with another hit. Jemile Weeks also tallied a couple hits with an RBI of his own. Cliff Pennington continued to wake up offensively, reaching base 3 more times and scoring twice also.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This weekend series has been what can be referred to as “when worlds collide” for me. I’ll root for the Padres 159 games out of the 162 they’ll play this year, especially when it’s against the evil San Francisco Giants. I knew they were a bad team, but they have shown themselves to be perhaps even worse than previously thought. The A’s are finally finding that winning form that kept them around the .500 mark for most of the season. They have the opportunity once again to sweep a reeling team, and they need to not let up one bit. Bartolo Colon (6-6, 4.21 ERA) takes the hill against lefty Clayton Richard (3-7, 4.30 ERA) in the series finale. Bartolo has struggled at home, so he will need to overcome those issues and hope the A’s bats stay awake to support him.