The A’s fanbase as a whole let out a collective groan when Brandon Inge went on the DL with his shoulder injury and word came out that Josh Donaldson was getting the call from Sacramento, and not top prospect Grant Green. Donaldson hadn’t exactly done anything to win over A’s fans over his stints with the big club, hitting a paltry .153/.160/.235 in 98 ABs prior to his most recent call up. After being named the Opening Day 3B, it had become clear that maybe Josh Donaldson simply was cut out to hit at the MLB level.
Fast forward to August 14, Inge is on the DL and Donaldson is declared the everyday 3B until Inge returns. Most anyone who’s watched A’s baseball this year expected the hot corner to turn into a massive abyss of non-production. But so far since his return to the show Donaldson has done something unusual, he’s been hitting. In his 14 at bats since returning, he now has 7 hits including a home run and a career high 4 hits in tonight’s comeback victory against the Cleveland Indians.
Tommy Milone looked half way decent for the first 3 innings of the game, while he did allow 3 hits nothing came of them. But the 4th inning was a different story, the dreaded leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, followed by a fly ball that fell in between Yoenis Cespedes and Cliff Pennington (Cespedes was originally charged with an error, but it was later changed to a hit since he was nowhere near the ball), then a single by Jason Donald loaded the bases. Shelley Duncan came to the plate and forcefully deposited a 3-2 pitch into the left field bleachers for a grand slam. Suddenly the game looked very bleak. Milone would last 5 innings with just those 4 ER on his record from one mistake pitch.
Indians starter Zach McAllister sought to deliver on the shut down inning but Chris Carter had other things in mind as he singled to lead off the bottom half of the 4th. A walk to Brandon Moss, and an RBI double from Josh Donaldson got the A’s on the board. Derek Norris followed with a ground out to get the 2nd run in, and Cliff Pennington delivered a solid RBI single to pull the A’s within 1. The next inning would see the A’s tie the game after Yoenis Cespdes doubled and stole 3rd base, allowing Chris Carter to drive him in on a sac fly.
The game would stay tied until the 8th, thanks in large part to spectacular bullpen work from Pat Neshek and Jordan Norberto who combined for 3 hitless innings. Chris Carter started the rally yet again with a walk, Moss followed with a hard hit single, and Josh Reddick pinch hit for Jonny Gomes and dropped a bloop single in to load the bases. Tonight’s hero once again came up in a clutch situation and delivered the decisive blow with a line drive single to give the A’s a 5-4 lead. Cliff Pennington would add a sac fly insurance run just to be safe. Grant Balfour would shut down the Indians in the 9th for his 10th save of the season and secure the victory for the A’s.
This was a big win for the A’s in that it showed some signs of that never say die attitude they have exhibited throughout the season that has led to so many dramatic wins. While it may come as a disappointment that this win wasn’t a walk off, it’s nice to be able to wrap up a win in regulation without having to play extras. If the A’s can take advantage of this win and start up a nice new win streak. This win coupled with Rangers and Angels losses pulls them within 5 of the Rangers and gives them a 2 game cushion ahead of the Angels. They are also back to within 1/2 game of the 2nd wildcard spot, occupied by the Tigers and Orioles (who play one another this weekend). This was a big opportunity to move back towards the top after slipping a little recently. Bartolo Colon takes the mound tomorrow with a 9-9 record and an ERA of 3.55 against Corey Kluber who is 0-1 with an 8.56 ERA. The A’s can get back on the series winning track as well with a victory tomorrow, and they need to win series as much as possible from here on out if they want to hang in this race.
Topics: Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, Brandon Moss, Cliff Pennington, Derek Norris, Grant Balfour, Jonny Gomes, Jordan Norberto, Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics, Pat Neshek, Tommy Milone, Yoenis Cespedes