Many teams would be riding high after a dramatic sweep, only to experience a let down in the series that follows because it lacks the same emotion. Not this team though, the 2012 Oakland Athletics have a fight and a drive that overcomes such things. While the team is involved in perhaps the biggest trade rumor swirling around MLB right now as they’re involved in talks to acquire SS/3B Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, the current members of the roster are simply tearing up the American League right now. Tonight’s 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays was nice in that it was a comfortable victory. Travis Blackley continued his late blooming MLB career by stymying the Jays for 7 innings on an efficient 97 pitches. The A’s bats took most of the first half of the game off, but erupted in decisive fashion in the 7th inning with a 2 out 5 run rally to seal the game.
TURNING POINT: The top of the 7th inning started off much like many innings did tonight, Brandon Inge struck out and Derek Norris grounded out as Chad Beck relieved starter Brett Cecil. Then the A’s figured Beck out as Brandon Hicks doubled and was driven in by Jemile Weeks on a triple. Coco Crisp followed with a double to bring in Weeks, then the A’s set the table with walks by Jonny Gomes and Josh Reddick. Yoenis Cespedes came up with the bases juiced and smoked a line drive that cleared the bases as everyone was running on the 3-2 pitch.
ON THE HILL: Travis Blackley probably can’t believe that he has 3 wins this season, lest we forget that he hadn’t won a game in the Major Leagues for 8 years prior to this season. Blackley was dominant today in his 7 innings of work, he allowed just 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8 Blue Jays in the process. Evan Scribner followed with a scoreless 8th inning with just 1 hit allowed and 2 strikeouts. Jim Miller had one blemish on his resume for the night, allowing a solo home run to JP Arencibia in the 9th, he allowed another hit and struck out 1 to finish the game.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s got fairly even contributions from all around the lineup, every one reached base one way or another, and nobody besides Jemile Weeks had a multi hit game. Derek Norris absolutely crushed a 2 run home run in the 2nd inning to put the A’s on the board, so perhaps there are signs of life from him. Yoenis Cespedes drove in 3 runs but did strike out 3 times in his other at bats. The A’s keep swinging like they’ve proven they can, and they keep winning.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Things just keep getting better for the Green and Gold who have now taken over 2nd place in the AL West by a single percentage point over the Los Angeles Angels. Subsequently that puts them in possession of the top wild card spot in the AL. The A’s are now 52-44 and don’t seem to be interested in flirting with the .500 mark anymore this year. As the trade rumors fly all around the A’s and the July 31 deadline nears, the A’s seem ignorant to all the chatter. That’s just the way they should be. If Billy Beane does pull the trigger on a deal, I have confidence that this team will be able to welcome in any kind of personality. If Hanley Ramirez does become an Athletic, who’s to say he’ll be a malcontent in Oakland? There are a myriad of factors that play into the potential deal, money, prospects, his attitude etc… but even a declining Hanley Ramirez is better than starting Eric Sogard/Brandon Hicks at SS as long as Cliff Pennington is on the shelf. But if Hanley Ramirez does come to Oakland and ruin the good vibes in this clubhouse, then maybe this team’s chemistry wasn’t as strong as we all thought. But for now, it’s all speculation. Tomorrow night at the Rogers Centre AJ Griffin takes the mound with a 2-0 record and a 2.70 ERA against the tough lefty Ricky Romero who is 8-6 with a 5.22 ERA this year. The A’s can take yet another series with a win tomorrow, at this point there is no need to let up for the A’s, and I don’t believe they will.