Athletics 5 – Mariners 2
From the get-go it looked like the A’s were poised to smack the Mariners around a bit on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon at the O.co Coliseum. A Stephen Drew walk, a Yoenis Cespedes triple, and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Moss put the A’s up 2-0 in the 1st inning. But Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez would settle down quite nicely and keep the A’s off the scoreboard for the next 5.1 innings. Meanwhile the Mariners tied the game up at 2 against an extremely wobbly Tommy Milone on a couple RBI singles in the 3rd inning. Milone didn’t necessarily struggle with his control in the typical sense, he seemed to be catching too much of the plate and was getting hit fairly hard by the Mariners. He was able to sidestep most of the damage aside from the 3rd inning. If the A’s had been playing a tougher opponent, Tommy Milone most likely would have gotten punished for his mistakes.
Milone only lasted 4.2 innings, allowing 9 hits and 2 ER without walking anyone and striking out 3. After Pat Neshek‘s cameo appearance, walking the only batter he faced on 4 pitches, Jerry Blevins gave the A’s 1.1 perfect innings. Ryan Cook created a mess for himself in the 7th inning by allowing a double to Brendan Ryan, and a single to Trayvon Robinson to start the inning, but he proceeded to strike out the side with runners at the corners. Sean Doolittle worked a perfect 8th inning, and Grant Balfour a perfect 9th for his 22nd save of the season.
On the offensive side of things, the A’s bats were extremely quiet after the first inning against Erasmo Ramirez. I was extremely impressed with Ramirez and the M’s seem to have a very solid young starter on their hands. His control was a bit shaky, amounting to 4 walks in his 6.1 innings, but he only allowed 3 hits. Once Ramirez was out of the game though, the A’s bats began to come to life, much like they did when Jason Vargas left yesterday’s game. Charlie Furbush didn’t allow anything in his 1 inning of work, but Shawn Kelley and Lucas Luetge weren’t so fortunate. Kelley was brought in to face Yoenis Cespedes with 1 out in the 8th inning, and Yoenis hit a solo home run off Kelley that was as high as it was far into the left field BBQ terrace to give the A’s the lead. Brandon Moss followed with a single bringing up Josh Reddick who has seemed to find his stroke again recently. Reddick showed off that stroke by blasting a 2 run home run against Luetge just fair and into the second deck in right field causing pandemonium at the Coliseum (Watching from the RF bleachers, it was beautiful).
The fact that the A’s swept the Mariners is secondary to the fact that it means they have won 3 straight and are as close as can be to clinching a playoff berth in 2012. The Angels came back in the 9th inning against the Rangers in game 1 of today’s double header to take down the Rangers 5-4, but Texas returned the favor in game 2 defeating the Angels 8-7. What this means is that the A’s have a magic number of just 1 to clinch the wild card, meaning a single win by the A’s or a single loss by the Angels ends the race. At this moment though, the A’s have guaranteed themselves a worst case scenario of a tie in the wild card race. What it also means is the A’s are just 2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West race. In order to take the AL West the A’s have to sweep the Rangers in these final 3 games of the regular season, it would be quite a nice bonus for the A’s to not have to endure the unpredictability of the wild card game, but just guaranteeing themselves even that chance is priority number one at the moment. Both the Orioles and the Yankees won their games today, so they remain tied for 1st place in the AL East. The Yankees host the brutally bad Boston Red Sox who rolled over for the O’s this weekend, while the O’s travel to Tampa Bay where the Rays playoff hopes remain on life support.
Tomorrow night from Oakland the A’s will send out Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.44 ERA) against Martin Perez (1-3, 5.03 ERA) as the calendar turns to October. The A’s roughed up Perez last week in Arlington, scoring 5 runs against him in 2/3 of an inning. Parker surrendered 3 runs early to the Rangers in his start, but recovered nicely to get the win. Hopefully whatever plagued Perez in his last start will do so once again and we can have ourselves a little party in Oaktown tomorrow night.