People keep waiting on the A’s to fail, to fade out of contention, but it just doesn’t seem to want to happen. Tonight the A’s bested the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on the back of a strong 5 run 3rd inning, and looked to be clearly the better team of the two. Jarrod Parker got tagged for a couple runs early, one on an RBI double by Mark Reynolds after an error on a pickoff throw, the other on a solo home run by Nate McLouth. But there seemed to be a level of anticipation, almost expectation that the A’s were going to make a comeback and get those runs for Parker.
It all started out when Stephen Drew took Orioles starter Zach Britton deep to lead off the 3rd inning. After Adam Rosales grounded out, Coco Crisp walked, Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch, and Josh Reddick followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 2. Yoenis Cespedes followed with an RBI single of his own to give the A’s the lead. Finally Chris Carter came to the plate with a chance to give the A’s a big lead, and he came through driving in both Reddick and Cespedes. The 5-2 lead would stay exactly the same for the duration of the game.
Jarrod Parker wasn’t particularly dominant, but he was quite efficient. He only threw 94 pitches during his 7 innings of work, he did allow 7 hits and a walk with 2 ER allowed, he struck out 5 as well. This was his 11th victory of the season. Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour took the rest, with a small uprising forming in the 9th inning, but it was quickly ended.
With each win the A’s tally, they become bigger and bigger. Tonight’s may have been among the biggest though. With the win the A’s now hold a 3 game lead over the Orioles in the wild card race, and with their walk off loss in Kansas City the Angels are 5.5 games behind the A’s which gives them a nice cushion in the wild card. Most importantly though, the Texas Rangers were defeated by the Seattle Mariners tonight so the A’s pull to within 2 games of the Rangers, something they hadn’t done since early April.
The A’s yet again established a new season high of 23 games over .500 at 84-61, that still doesn’t seem real to me. But thankfully it is very much so. The A’s can sweep the Orioles right out of Oakland, having clinched the season series against them with today’s win as well as this weekend series. Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42 ERA) takes the mound against another veteran southpaw for the Orioles, this time it will be Randy Wolf (5-10, 5.69 ERA). Wolf hasn’t started for almost a month, and his last was with the Milwaukee Brewers. The A’s should be able to score some runs, but as any veteran can, Wolf can get on a roll if he gets into a rhythm so the A’s will have to be aggresive.