On Monday night I wrote that these 6 games against the two best teams in the MLB were the most important games the A’s have played since the 2006 season when they reached the ALCS. I felt at the time a bit of cautious optimism and hope that the A’s wouldn’t shrink in the presence of the Texas Rangers and the mighty New York Yankees. And not only have they not shrunk, they’ve grown before our very eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, the Oakland Athletics mean business. Jarrod Parker was tremendous tonight, shutting down a Yankees offense that hadn’t been shut down in 6 weeks or so for the second consecutive night. Parker at times seemed to be toying with the Yankees, and he only got stronger as the night went on as he retired the final 9 Yankees hitters he faced. Phil Hughes was equally as effective, but made two mistakes and paid dearly for them as Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Inge took him deep. Then the miraculous story of Sean Doolittle continued to get even better on the big stage as he struck out the side in the 9th to notch his first career save in Ryan Cook’s absence (having pitched the last 3 days).
TURNING POINT: The only blemish of the night for Parker came when the Yankees were able to scratch out a run with a leadoff Alex Rodriguez single, a couple groundouts to move him to 3rd, and an RBI single up the middle from Raul Ibanez. The A’s were down and had to try to scratch out a run of their own, and they didn’t waste any time. A couple fly outs by Jemile Weeks and Josh Reddick brought the man of the hour on the offensive side Yoenis Cespedes to the plate. Cespedes is fast becoming one of the must see hitters in the entire league, and he put on a show tonight, driving a 2-1 fastball from Hughes well into the left field bleachers. Just like that the game was tied and we were back even with half the game left to play. But it felt like the A’s had the momentum with Parker just beginning to find his groove.
ON THE HILL: Jarrod Parker needed to avoid putting Yankees hitters on base with the walks that have plagued him all season, he did just that. The one walk he did issue was the last Yankee to reach base against him tonight. Overall Parker pitched 8 innings, allowing 5 hits and 1 walk with 5 strikeouts. Sean Doolittle came on to close out the game and while he did allow a leadoff seeing eye single to Alex Rodriguez, he struck out Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira on a near strike ‘em out-throw ‘em out double play to end the game, and finally Andruw Jones on a high fastball for the final out. This was Doolittle’s first career save, and his dominance at the major league level continues.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s really didn’t have much going offensively tonight as they only mustered 4 hits against the Phil Hughes, but two of them counted more than all the others and it was just enough. Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Inge, Coco Crisp, and Chris Carter were the only ones to find the hit column, and Cespedes and Derek Norris also drew walks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The A’s are in great position now not only for this series but in the standings. With a 50-44 record they are now tied with the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles for the 2nd wild card spot, the Detroit Tigers beat the White Sox today to take a 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. But perhaps more importantly with the Texas Rangers defeating the Los Angeles Angels tonight, the A’s are just 1/2 game behind the Angels in the AL West for 2nd place. They remain 6.5 games behind the Rangers, but passing the Angels would be huge for this team’s confidence going forward. I never would have expected to say this, but the A’s have a chance to sweep the 4 game series tomorrow afternoon as Bartolo Colon (6-8, 3.88 ERA) takes on Bay Area guy and Vallejo native CC Sabathia (10-3, 3.27 ERA). The A’s have had a fair amount of success against Sabathia over the years, so they know they can hit him, but Sabathia is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game when he’s on so the A’s will need to be at their best to beat him. The A’s have done a great job lately of not letting up when they have an advantage, and now is not the time to stop, it has to be full speed ahead to sweep the Yankees right out of Oakland!
Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, CC Sabathia, Chris Carter, Coco Crisp, Derek Norris, Jarrod Parker, Mark Teixeira, Oakland Athletics, Phil Hughes, Raul Ibanez, Robinson Cano, Sean Doolittle, Yoenis Cespedes