Jered Weaver delivered a pretty devastating haymaker to the collective jaw of the Oakland Athletics last night with his complete game shutout gem. But the A’s showed tonight they can hit back just as hard with tonight’s 10-4 victory. Everyone’s least favorite opposing pitcher CJ Wilson probably was not swayed from his prior criticisms of everything Oakland with the way the A’s treated him. Perhaps CJ would cite another instance of “lawyerball” being employed by the A’s, but when you only throw 66 of your 114 pitches for strikes how can you blame anyone but yourself?
TURNING POINT: The bottom of the 3rd inning would be the undoing of CJ Wilson, although it started off routinely as Josh Reddick grounded out to lead off the inning. But an infield single by Yoenis Cespedes, a solid single by Chris Carter, and a walk by Brandon Inge would put Wilson on the ropes. Derek Norris came up for the 2nd of his 3 bases loaded at bats with a chance to drop a crooked number on the Angels. Keeping with the boxing analogy I guess Derek Norris wound up for a big knockout blow, but failed to connect. The A’s caught a break when in the follow through from the punch perhaps Norris’ headbutted Wilson instead, Alberto Callaspo’s error resulted in 2 runs for the A’s instead of an inning ending double play. Adam Rosales capitalized on the situation and drove in the 4th run of the day with a sacrifice fly, and Jemile Weeks finished off the assault with an RBI triple (Weeks leads the league with 8 triples by the way). The 4 run inning along with Jonny Gomes 2nd inning solo home run put the A’s in cruise control for the duration of the game, but they showed later they weren’t done.m
ON THE HILL: Bartolo Colon came into tonight’s start having not allowed a run in his last 16.1 innings pitched, and he was on his game once again. Colon extended that streak to 22.1 innings to set a new high watermark for his career until Maicer Izturis’ RBI single in the 7th (The run was unearned so he still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 23.1 innings). All told Colon pitched 7 strong innings, allowed just 4 hits and the 1 unearned run, he walked nobody and struck out 5. Travis Blackley came into a 9-1 game to mop up the victory but got himself into a little bit of trouble, the game was never in doubt but Blackley did surrender 2 home runs to the Angels’ Erick Aybar and Mike Trout and nearly to Kendrys Morales if it weren’t for a spectacular play to rob him by Coco Crisp. Blackley worked 2 innings with 3 hits and 3 ER allowed with 1 walk and 2 K’s.
AT THE PLATE: As much as the A’s bats fell silent Monday night, they were just that loud tonight. Every Athletic in the starting lineup contributed a hit tonight, with Jonny Gomes, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chris Carter each getting 2. The A’s also went deep 4 times against the Halos with Jonny Gomes (12), Derek Norris (4), Adam Rosales (1, and his trademark sprint around the bases which I have greatly missed seeing), and Josh Reddick topping the night off with his 25th homer of 2012.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a badly needed victory for the A’s after being embarrassed by Jered Weaver. The A’s stopped their 3 game skid and evened this series with the Angels going into tomorrow afternoon’s series and homestand finale. The A’s jumped back into 2nd place in the AL West but remain 5.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the division, they also leapfrogged the Angels back into the wild card lead for the 2nd spot. They activated Cliff Pennington from the DL today, but he didn’t start against the lefty Wilson, Pedro Figueroa was sent back to Sacramento after having helped the very overworked bullpen. His contribution does not go unnoticed by this writer. The rubber match of this series will feature an intriguing pitching matchup with Dan Straily making his 2nd Major League start after pitching 6 strong innings in his debut last Friday. He’ll be opposed by the newest Angel Zack Greinke who is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in 2 starts since being traded from Milwaukee. Greinke has had some success in the past against the A’s with a 5-1 record and a 3.00 ERA against them, but the last time he faced the A’s was in 2010 and this team is extraordinarily different from that one. Like they were today, the A’s need to be selectively aggressive against Greinke. He can be as dominant as anyone in baseball when he’s on his game, but when he’s off he is very hittable. This is a chance for both teams to make a statement in this race, let’s hope the statement is made by the A’s.