As I said last night, this series would be the first true test for the Athletics in 2013, and it did not disappoint. As the green-and-gold took to the field for the home opener at Angel Stadium of Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels… of Anaheim against C.J. Wilson… of Anaheim they used a little bit of the old “lawyerball” tactic to get on the board early against the left hander. An RBI single from Derek Norris, and a 2 run single by Brandon Moss spotted the A’s 3 runs in the top of the first inning. Jarrod Parker had visions of making things a bit more interesting, and loaded the bases without retiring a batter in the bottom half of the frame. With Josh Hamilton at the plate with a chance to give the Angels a lead with one swing of his $125 million bat, Parker struck him out on three straight change ups. That set up the inning ending 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Mark Trumbo to get the A’s out of the inning unharmed.
Coco Crisp would lead off the top of the second inning with his 4th home run of the season, in his 4th straight game. Coco is on fire to say the least. But after that Wilson would settle down nicely and would last 6 innings.
Parker was not so fortunate, lasting only 3.1 innings while allowing 9 hits, 3 walks, and 2 ER, with just a single strikeout. We’re still in early season territory, but after struggling during most of the spring and in his first start of the regular season, there isn’t much to inspire confidence in the young right hander at this point. It won’t get much easier for him either as his next start will pit him against the equally tough Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Chris Resop provided crucial innings once again, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Parker, but Pat Neshek gave up a lead off triple to Mike Trout (always a bad idea) and that’s when things started to get ugly. Brendan Harris (who replaced Erick Aybar who left with an injury) attempted to hit a sacrifice fly, but Chris Young couldn’t make the catch and put Harris on second as Trout scored. An error by Jed Lowrie put Albert Pujols on, and Harris to third base. Jerry Blevins relieved Neshek to face Josh Hamilton, he got Hamilton to fly out but the tying run crossed the plate. Ryan Cook joined the party and allowed a triple from Howie Kendrick that scored Mark Trumbo from first base to give the Angels a 5-4 lead.
The A’s stormed back though in the top of the 7th when Coco Crisp reached on an infield single, while Chris Young and Jed Lowrie failed to continue the rally, a walk by Yoenis Cespedes put two runners on with two outs. John Jaso came to bat in place of Derek Norris, needing just a single to likely tie the game once again. He smacked a Kevin Jepsen pitch down the right field line that bounced off the top of the 4 foot wall and over for a 3 run home run to give the A’s a 7-5 lead. Brandon Moss would put the exclamation point on the rally with a 2 run homer of his own to make it 9-5.
Brandon Moss led the charge offensively tonight going 3-4 with the home run and 4 RBI, Yoenis Cespedes went 2-3 with 2 runs scored, and Coco Crisp went 2-5 with 2 runs scored and the solo home run. Chris Young was on the opposite end of the spectrum, going 0-5 and having a bit of a rough time in right field in place of the injured Josh Reddick. Chances are Seth Smith will start in right tomorrow night.
Lost in the shuffle of tonight’s wild game was the injury to Scott Sizemore, who appeared to pull up lame chasing down a pop up. The team announced that he had suffered a knee sprain in his surgically repaired left knee and will get an MRI to evaluate any potential damage. If Sizemore misses any time, expect to see Jemile Weeks or perhaps even Grant Green finally getting his chance in Oakland.
It was hard fought, and in that respect the A’s passed this first test with flying colors. They made a lot of mistakes, and bad pitches and still managed to come out on top; that really says a lot about this team. Good teams are able to win games when they aren’t at their best, so this win was very important.