What makes this season so incredible for the Oakland Athletics is the fact that in essentially every facet of this team there have been unlikely contributions from unlikely contributors that have led this team to the 72-57 record they now possess. Tonight it was Josh Donaldson and Travis Blackley. With tonight’s 8-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians the A’s have guaranteed themselves a series win at the Jake (I can’t stand to call it Progressive Field), and a season high 15 games over .500 to take sole possession of the number 1 wild card spot. Travis Blackley made the most of his opportunity yet again, making the spot start in place of the suspended Bartolo Colon while the A’s anxiously await the 10 days to expire so they can recall Dan Straily. Blackley was not spectacular by any means, he allowed his share of base runners, and did surrender 2 runs in his 5.2 innings, but he kept the Indians down enough for the A’s offense to wake up.
After Blackley allowed the 2 runs in the bottom of the 3rd, one on the first pitch that was taken out to center field by Jason Donald, the other on a groundout by Jason Kipnis after Ezequiel Carrera had tripled. Certainly Blackley wobbled a bit during this inning, also issuing a walk before retiring the side, but he kept the damage to a minimum and gave the A’s more than a fighting chance to tie the game.
They would do much more than that in the very next inning. Yoenis Cespedes led off the inning with a single, and with 1 out Chris Carter doubled moving Cespedes to 3rd. After a Josh Reddick strikeout Josh Donaldson came to bat with a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. Instead he chose to remove all doubt and launched a 3 run homer up over the big wall in straight away left field to give the A’s a 3-2 lead. They would never look back.
Some shoddy defense in the top of the 6th inning by the Indians opened the door for another scoring chance, and while the A’s didn’t truly take advantage they did at least put another run on the board with an RBI groundout from Derek Norris. They would add on 2 more runs in the top of the 7th inning, and those runs would prove crucial as the Indians ignited a small uprising in the bottom of the 8th inning. After putting out Pat Neshek‘s fire in the 7th inning Sean Doolittle decided to set one of his own in the 8th. A walk, a single, and a bizarre error by Josh Donaldson that saw him drop the ball and kick it as he ran down Shin Soo Choo loaded the bases. Jerry Blevins was called upon after Doolittle gave up one of the runs on a sacrifice fly to Brent Lillibridge. Blevins cleaned up Doolittle’s mess and limited the further damage to just 1 run. The game had become a little bit closer than the A’s would like, and they would add on 2 more runs in the top of the 9th inning to give them a cushion again and avoid having to bring in closer Grant Balfour.
Tonight’s win was great to see because of the big contribution by Josh Donaldson as well as the new found stroke in the 6 spot by Josh Reddick who went 3-5 in his 4th game there. If the A’s are to continue this run towards the playoffs they are going to have to have some damage done off the bat of Josh Reddick. On the flip side, Cliff Pennington is just as lost as ever at the plate. He was the only Athletics player to not collect a hit today. At this point it is hard to understand why he’s getting any playing time at all. Once Jemile Weeks is brought back, presumably within the next few days, I would expect him to take over the everyday 2nd base duties.
The A’s can sweep the Tribe out of their own ballpark tomorrow morning as Jarrod Parker (8-7, 3.52 ERA) takes on the talented righty Justin Masterson (10-11, 4.60 ERA). The A’s scored 7 runs against Masterson as they swept the Indians in Oakland earlier this month, they’ll be looking to give him the same rough treatment tomorrow.