Last night the A’s got a little dose of revenge on behalf of the American League (And the Dodgers) from the White Sox, but tonight the A’s took the upper hand. The first inning of this eventual roller coaster ride of a game took quite a downturn as Francisco Liriano struck out the side while retiring the A’s in order, incase you forgot he struck out 14 A’s last time he faced them as a member of the Twins. So things were not looking up, Liriano struck 2 more out in the 2nd inning and the White Sox took the early lead with 2 runs in the inning. But the A’s picked themselves up and as the lineup turned over in the 3rd inning the hits began to come in bunches. A bases loaded 2 run single by Chris Carter, another bases loaded base hit on a ground rule double from Derek Norris to drive in 2 more, and an Adam Rosales RBI single gave the A’s a 5-2 lead. They had solved Francisco Liriano and hoped to be able to continue the offensive outburst to cruise to a victory.
TURNING POINT: Travis Blackley did not have his best stuff tonight in his spot start, which probably reaffirms the notion that he’s best suited for the bullpen. The A’s added another run in the 4th inning on an RBI single by Josh Reddick to make it a 6-2 ballgame, but Blackley failed to deliver the shutdown inning. It may have seemed like a fairly innocent run, but Tyler Flowers delivered in an RBI situation and singled in Dayan Viciedo to make it 6-3. This reset the tone of the game as the White Sox began to make a comeback, in the 5th Kevin Youkilis took Blackley deep to tighten the game to 6-5. As Blackley exited after 5 innings it was clear this was going to be one of those games that wouldn’t be decided until the very end. Tyler Flowers would take Jordan Norberto deep and tie the game at 6, and the White Sox were able to complete their comeback. They would take a 7-6 lead on an AJ Pierzynski RBI single but Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge would supply enough offense to take back the lead and ultimately win the game. Just another one of those wild heart pounding games that the A’s like to play.
ON THE HILL: Travis Blackley made what could ultimately be his final start of 2012 as the rotation reinforcements continue to arrive and he didn’t exactly impress. Over his 5 innings of work he allowed 5 ER on 6 hits with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Jordan Norberto didnt have his best night either as he allowed the tying and go ahead runs, although he was only on the mound for the tying run. He pitched 1.1 innings, allowing 2 ER on 2 hits and a walk while striking out 3. Ryan Cook took over for Norberto in his new role back in middle relief after being taken out of the closer role for the time being, he did allow the RBI single to Pierzynski that gave the White Sox the lead, but only allowed 1 other hit in his 1.1 innings of work. Jerry Blevins pitched to 1 batter and retired him to end the 8th inning. Grant Balfour was put back in the closer role and converted a fairly clean save despite hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch to open the inning.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s racked up 14 hits today en route to scoring 9 runs, with contributions from just about everyone. Chris Carter and Jonny Gomes led the charge with Carter registering his first 3 hit game with 2 RBI and Jonny Gomes hitting his 13th homer and driving in 2 as well. Coco Crisp went 3-6 with 3 runs scored, Brandon Inge went 1-3 with 2 walks and drove in the decisive run (And also made a spectacular diving play to save a run, dislocated his shoulder in the process, popped it back into place, and continued the game including the aforementioned RBI single, pretty incredible). Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Derek Norris, and Adam Rosales had a hit a piece. Jemile Weeks was the only player without a hit tonight, going 0-4 with a walk and a SB.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a big win for the A’s who are once again in a position to win a tough series against a tough opponent. Tonight’s win showed a ton of the character that made the A’s such an exciting story so far this year, they got down early, roared back into the lead, gave up said lead, and came back one more time to take the W. The generosity of the pitching staff as of late is a bit concerning, but the fact that Travis Blackley will probably see a decreased role for himself in the coming days and weeks makes it a little easier to deal with. As it stands the A’s remain 5.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West as they beat the Detroit Tigers, and with that Tigers loss the Rays stand alongside the A’s in the wild card position, both with records of 61-52. The wily veteran without a care in the world takes the mound tomorrow in the person of Bartolo Colon (9-8, 3.37 ERA), he’ll be opposed by the young hot-shot lefty Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59 ERA). It’ll be a tough task for the A’s to put a crooked number on the board against Sale who is quickly becoming one of the best left handed starters in baseball, but if Bartolo can keep pace the A’s just might have a puncher’s chance in this one.
On a personal note I would like to congratulate the Petaluma National Little League All Stars for advancing to Williamsport and the Little League World Series, like Jonny Gomes of the A’s I am a native Petaluman, and I played in the Petaluma American Little League once upon a time (Even threw a no-no when I was 10). It’s pretty amazing to have a team from your home town make it to the World Series, I’m sure those boys will do Petaluma, the 707 and the entire Bay Area proud.
Topics: Adam Rosales, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, Chris Carter, Derek Norris, Grant Balfour, Jemile Weeks, Jerry Blevins, Jonny Gomes, Jordan Norberto, Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics, Ryan Cook, Travis Blackley, Yoenis Cespedes