We’ve survived yet another season of interleague play, and this will be the last of its kind. We don’t know the exact nature of how the realignment will affect the Athletics in 2013 but we know one thing for sure, it will be changing. As the A’s prepare to resume American League play for the duration of 2012, that is unless a miracle run to the World Series takes place, I thought it would be good to take a quick look back at how interleague play treated the A’s.
The first shred of NL baseball the A’s had to endure was the first round of the Battle of the Bay or Bay Bridge Series, whichever nickname you prefer.
A’s Lose 2 out of 3 at San Francisco
Jarrod Parker had the worst game of his Major League career in game 1 of the series, allowing 6 ER in just 2 innings. It was later found out that Parker had been rather ill and hadn’t been able to eat for the couple days prior, but he tried to gut out the start and it backfired. The A’s attempted a comeback fueled by a career night from Josh Donaldson but ended up falling short and losing to former Athletic Barry Zito. The second game of the series proved to be far less dramatic as Ryan Vogelsong schooled the A’s while giving up just 1 hit in his 7 shutout innings, Tyson Ross took the hard luck loss as the A’s were shutout. At this point the A’s hadn’t won a game at AT&SBC Bell Park in 35 years, an already dire situation was simply getting ridiculous. The Giants had to have been feeling good about themselves with the ace of their staff Tim Lincecum taking the hill against a team he’s dominated thus far in his career. The A’s had seen enough of that, and enough of the losing in San Francisco. Lincecum more or less cruised through the first 3 innings, but the 4th inning would be his undoing. A couple RBI singles gave the A’s 3 runs, and they scored the 4th when Collin Cowgill alertly broke for home on a wild pitch and dove right into the face of Tim Lincecum in the process of scoring the run. They’d tack on a couple more runs to salvage the final game of the series by a 6-2 score.
After a few weeks back in the American League the A’s ventured down to the desert to face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A’s Get Swept in Arizona
A 6 run inning highlighted by a Tommy Milone 2 run single should have put this game away in the 2nd. But the live yard that is Chase Field let the DBacks back into the game, and ultimately into the win column when Brian Fuentes could not hold down a 2 run lead after retiring the first two batters of the 9th. The Tatman had struck, giving the DBacks a 9-8 win. Game 2 pitted the two pitchers who had been traded for one another last offseason Jarrod Parker and Trevor Cahill. A Miguel Montero grand slam aided Cahill in defeating his former team 8-3. In the finale some timely hits and a miscue by the A’s gave the DBacks enough of an early lead against Travis Blackley that they were able to withstand small rallies by the A’s and sweep them with a 4-3 victory.
A’s Sweep Rockies at Coors Field
Things got off to a rocky start (I’m sorry, I had to) in Denver as Bartolo Colon surrendered 4 runs in the bottom of the first in game 1. It looked as if the A’s were headed towards their 4th straight loss, but an offensive assault in the top of the 3rd inning put the A’s ahead 6-4 and they never looked back. This was the beginning of the insane Brandon Moss homer barrage, he obviously liked hitting in Coors Field. The bottom of the first inning was an ugly one yet again in game 2 as Tommy Milone’s road woes continued on his way to allowing 8 runs in just 4 innings. But the A’s bats were hot again against another former Athletics Josh Outman as former Rockie Seth Smith, Brandon Moss again, and Jonny Gomes went deep. It was a classic Coors Field slugfest, and the A’s pulled it out in the end against Rafael Betancourt courtesy of Collin Cowgill and Brandon Inge. Jarrod Parker was in complete control of the Rockies in game 3, allowing just 3 hits in his 7 shutout innings. Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss yet again added long balls in support of Parker. Brian Fuentes spoiled the shutout in his former stomping grounds but the A’s pulled off the sweep nonetheless.
A’s Take 2 out of 3 from Padres at Home
Game 1 against the San Diego Padres in Oakland was historic because it marked the first victory in nearly 8 years for Travis Blackley. The A’s dropped a 5 spot on San Diego starter Anthony Bass in the 1st and cruised to the victory from there. Brandon Moss went deep for his 4th straight game to highlight the big 1st inning. Game 2 was much more closely contested, the A’s drew first blood in the 4th on a Seth Smith home run, and added another run in the 5th. Meanwhile Tyson Ross had not given up a hit through 5.2 innings despite walking 4 Padres. Carlos Quentin took Ross deep to cut the lead to 1 run, and end the budding no-hit bid. The Padres would briefly grab the lead on a Will Venable double, only to have it taken right back with some alert and aggressive base running from Cliff Pennington scoring on a wild pitch to tie it, immediately followed by a Jonny Gomes homer in that same at bat to take the lead for good. Game 3 was another nail biter as Bartolo Colon took on Clayton Richard, Colon would leave the game early with the oblique injury that landed him on the DL. Pedro Figueroa would fill in admirably for 3 innings in Colon’s absence. The game would be 1-0 until Ryan Cook’s wild pitch allowed Logan Forsythe to score from 3rd, that run would prove crucial as the A’s rallied for a run in the 9th but fell short with the tying run just 90 feet away to lose 2-1.
A’s Sweep Dodgers at Home
In what has become a rarity, Brandon McCarthy took the mound for game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and was on his game. He allowed just 2 hits and 1 walk in his 7 shutout innings and was able to make 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning hold up for the win. Game 2 saw Tommy Milone take the hill in the comforts of Oakland and he had the best game of his young career with his first complete game. He allowed just 3 hits an 1 run in beating the Dodgers as the A’s took the series needing to beat Clayton Kershaw to sweep. Kershaw was dominant against the A’s for 8 innings, but the unlikely story of Travis Blackley continued as he matched Kershaw for 8 innings of his own. The A’s stormed out of the gates in the bottom of the 9th as the game remained tied at 1, the table was set for slugger Yoenis Cespedes and he cleared the table with one swing of the bat as he smashed a line drive home run to left to walk the A’s off winners.
A’s Drop 2 out of 3 to Giants at Home
This was perhaps one of the most dramatic series the A’s and Giants have had with one another in quite some time. Every game was a nail biter, coming down to the final frame. The A’s got to Tim Lincecum almost immediately in the bottom of the 1st inning, scoring 3 runs, but Lincecum recovered to strike out the side with the bases loaded to limit the damage and that would prove to be extremely costly for the A’s. Jarrod Parker limited the Giants to just 1 run over his 6 innings of work, and Ryan Cook came in to slam the door shut in the 9th. The problem was Cook’s propensity for issuing walks, he walked Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval to start the inning and Brandon Belt drove them both in with a double to tie the game, they added 2 more to take the lead and put the game out of reach. Tyson Ross was shaky in his second outing against the Giants this season, but Brian Fuentes was flat out bad. The Giants stormed back from a 4-2 deficit in the 6th inning and before the A’s knew it the game was out of hand with the Giants leading 9-4. The A’s would mount a furious rally in the 9th, but a bad break as Brandon Hicks double bounced over the wall sending Brandon Moss back to 3rd base after he had crossed the plate. The A’s wouldn’t be able to bring Moss home and fell short of the epic comeback against the Giants, losing 9-8. Game 3 looked to have the same formula as Matt Cain took on the A’s and AJ Griffin who was making his big league debut on a rather big stage. Griffin gave up a harsh welcome off the bat of Buster Posey in the 1st inning, but limited the Giants to just those 2 runs over his 6 solid innings of work. The A’s did manage to score one run against the filthy Cain, but again the drama would be saved for the 9th. Former Athletic turned Giants closer Santiago Casilla worked the 9th in the absence of Brian Wilson and the A’s made Casilla pay. With 2 outs and a full count, recently called up catcher Derek Norris took Casilla deep into the left field bleachers to give the A’s the walk off win. This win released a lot of the tension that had built up over the first two games, almost making A’s fans forget about the two heartbreaking losses.
Overall interleague play was a success for the A’s, although it started off in quite the ugly fashion. The A’s finished 10-8 during interleague play, their first winning record since 2008. The run the team went on during the Colorado, San Diego, and Los Angeles series just may have been enough to rescue the season for a little longer. There are still no real delusions about making some Cinderella playoff run, but the play of this team as of late has shown that they will not back down from a fight.