The Los Angeles Dodgers came into Oakland tonight with the best record in all of baseball, but the A’s and Brandon McCarthy in his return from another bout with shoulder soreness cared not about that fact. Sure the Dodgers are missing the would-be MVP Matt Kemp who’s hamstring is pulling a Yoenis Cespedes, but the Dodgers haven’t slid back much in his absence. Brandon McCarthy was on his game tonight, he had all of his pitches under command, was extremely efficient, and had some stellar defense playing behind him. As it turned out, the only offensive output this game saw took place in the first inning and it was all the A’s would need.
TURNING POINT: Tonight’s game was one of the rare occurrences in baseball where the game did not have a true turning point. Aaron Harang was not sharp in any way tonight, and the A’s made him pay for it in the first. Coco Crisp led off the game with a double, and Jemile Weeks worked one of the 8 walks Harang would issue, after Josh Reddick struck out on 3 pitches Seth Smith came to the plate. Smith smacked a line drive to center field that would have driven in Coco, but Tony Gwynn, Jr. had trouble with the ball in center and allowed the ball to get by him which enabled Weeks to score all the way from first. Jonny Gomes added an RBI single of his own with 2 outs to drive in Smith, and give the A’s a 3-0 lead that would ultimately be the final score.
ON THE HILL: Brandon McCarthy’s excellent season continued tonight in impressive form, he threw 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes and only allowed 3 base runners on 2 hits and a walk. His 7 shutout innings earned himself his 6th victory of the season, and lowered his ERA to 2.54. Grant Balfour came on to pitch the 8th inning, and walked 1 batter but escaped the inning unscored upon. Ryan Cook notched his 4th save as the “committee” was named closer of the A’s, Andre Ethier reached on Coco Crisp’s error, and Bobby Abreu drew a walk, but James Loney had seen enough and grounded into a double play to end the game.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s bats continued to be somewhat dormant for the second straight game, but this time the pitching had their back. Coco Crisp was the offensive leader with 2 hits and 2 walks as well as 3 SB to extend his streak to 36 bases stolen without being caught. Jemile Weeks reached base 3 times via the very plentiful base on balls, he also scored a run. Josh Reddick wore the golden sombrero tonight with 4 strikeouts as his bat continues to cool off. Aaron Harang was so off his game tonight that it was a shame the A’s didn’t make him pay, hopefully they’ll wake up for tomorrow night’s game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is a big win for a team that is still working to recover their confidence after the disastrous 9 game losing streak that dug them into a very deep hole. They now have 2 chances to take a series from the best team in all of baseball. In order for this recent success to be sustained the bats are going to have to wake up again. They’ll have an opportunity against the young right hander Nathan Eovaldi who is 0-2 but has a 1.82 ERA so he has received very little run support, the A’s will counter with the soft tossing lefty Tommy Milone who brings a 6-5 record and a 4.48 ERA to the table. As has been well documented Milone is a much different pitcher at home versus on the road, and thankfully this game is indeed in Oakland (newsflash!) so hopefully he can continue his dominance in the 510. Yoenis Cespedes was still out of the lineup tonight but there is hope he can DH perhaps tomorrow, the A’s can certainly use his power. The A’s go for the series win at 7:05 PM PST tomorrow night.
Topics: Aaron Harang, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu, Brandon McCarthy, Coco Crisp, Grant Balfour, Jemile Weeks, Jonny Gomes, Josh Reddick, Matt Kemp, Nathan Eovaldi, Oakland Athletics, Ryan Cook, Tommy Milone, Tony Gwynn Jr, Yoenis Cespedes