This afternoon’s game was the quintessential David vs. Goliath battle on the mound, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner taking on a journeyman starter who won his first game in almost 8 years in his previous start. And today David had a counter punch for every blow Goliath had in store for him. Up until the 9th inning, this was a classic pitchers duel, but Yoenis Cespedes had ideas of stealing the spotlight, and he did it by hitting a ball that left a vapor trail on a line over the left field wall. If you haven’t seen this home run, this is the reason they call this guy the Cuban Missile, and anyone in its path was best served getting out of its way.
TURNING POINT: The drama that took place in the bottom of the 9th would not have been possible if it weren’t for some stellar defense in the top of the inning. Ryan Cook came in to pitch the 9th and walked Matt Treanor to lead off the inning, which set the table for the defense to shine. In an obvious bunting situation Dee Gordon came to bat attempting to put Treanor in scoring position, after 2 failed attempts, he got the bunt down with 2 strikes but Brandon Inge was having none of it. He pounced on the ball and alertly fired it towards Cliff Pennington at 2nd base to nail the slow footed catcher for the first out. Having obviously failed his task, Dee Gordon sought to get himself into scoring position. But this time it was catcher Derek Norris who had surprisingly been called up to Oakland earlier in the day and was making his MLB debut who was having none of it. A laser precise throw to the waiting glove of Jemile Weeks straddling the bag erased Gordon from the bases, a strikeout of Elian Hererra would leave the game tied going to the bottom of the 9th.
ON THE HILL: Travis Blackley sure didn’t make it look like he was the guy who hadn’t won a game in 8 years today. He was extremely efficient with his pitches, yet dominant at the same time. His 8 innings of work saw only 3 base hits being tallied against him and not a single walk was issued. The only run against him came on a good outside pitch that Juan Rivera simply flicked down the right field line to drive in Elian Hererra. Of his 87 pitches, 67 were in the strike zone. Aside from the leadoff walk Ryan Cook issued, he and his defense shut down the Dodgers for another clean inning.
AT THE PLATE: Clayton Kershaw was every bit as dominant as Blackley was, he only allowed 3 hits of his own in his 8 innings of work. So that meant the A’s box score was mostly zeros in the hit column. A single to lead off the game by Coco Crisp (who was then picked off by Kershaw to end his consecutive steals streak), a Jonny Gomes double, and a broken bat single from Brandon Moss were responsible for filling the hit column against Kershaw. Brandon Inge gave the A’s their first lead with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning, and also reached base on a walk. Ofcourse Yoenis Cespedes had the big hit of the day with his 3 run walk off home run against Josh Lindblom. Also, Derek Norris will have to wait to register his first major league hit, but certainly made solid contact on his line drive speared by Uribe in the 8th.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was the game that no one expected the A’s to win, but they did. The swagger, the grittiness, the all out determination that had the A’s around the .500 mark for the first part of the season seems to be back. They have now won 8 of their last 9 games as they get ready for the hated San Francisco Giants to come to their house for round 2 of the Bay Bridge Series. The A’s did the Giants a big favor by sweeping the Dodgers this week, but the Giants failed to return the favor against the Angels as they lost 2 out of 3 in Anaheim. The series kicks off tomorrow night as Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82 ERA) looks to rebound from his previous outing against the Giants against the much agonized over Tim Lincecum who carries a baffling 2-8 record with a 6.19 ERA… in June. It has been the most discussed topic on the A’s own flagship station 95.7 The Game, “What’s wrong with Timmy?” they all desperately ask. I think it’s time for the A’s to shove that question in Lincecum’s face, 95.7 The Game’s face (Chris Townsend and Rick Tittle this doesn’t include you), Brandon Tierney’s face, and pummel his skinny-pot-smoking-long-greasy-haired butt into oblivion. They got to him once, now show it wasn’t a fluke. Can they do it? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tags: Brandon Inge Brandon Moss Cliff Pennington Coco Crisp Dee Gordon Derek Norris Elian Hererra Jarrod Parker Jemile Weeks Jonny Gomes Josh Lindblom Matt Treanor Oakland Athletics Ryan Cook Tim Lincecum Travis Blackley Yoenis Cespedes