Tonight the Athletics had a chance to go for the jugular as they attempted to sweep the Los Angeles Angels in their first meeting of 2013. That’s exactly what they did. In the 8-1 victory, probably the most crisp (no pun intended), clean victory of the 6-0 road trip, it was a combination of strong pitching, solid fielding, and a potent offense that helped extend the A’s winning streak to 8 games. I wrote earlier in the week before this series got underway that this would be the first true test for the Athletics in the 2013 season, and they aced that test. I had very tempered excitement after the A’s swept the Houston Astros last weekend, but the Angels are pegged by just about everyone as serious contenders to make the World Series, so putting them down like this is all the more satisfying.
The offense put forth another impressive outing, scoring 8 runs on 16 hits as they punished their longtime nemesis Jason Vargas for 5 ER over 5.2 innings. Today the charge was led by Seth Smith, who went 4-5 with a pair of doubles, he is now hitting .500 on the young season. Josh Donaldson also connected on his first home run of the season, a two run shot in the 4 run 6th inning that essentially put the game away. Yoenis Cespedes deposited a tape measure shot into the ridiculous rock pile fountain thing in center field, a ball that Peter Bourjos had no business doing anything but standing and watching fly. Jed Lowrie and Derek Norris each added 2 hits apiece as well. Every Athletics player contributed a hit in today’s attack.
The real hero tonight had to be A.J. Griffin, who not only delivered perhaps the best performance of his young career, but did it on a crucial night after two hard fought games that taxed the bullpen. Over Griffin’s 8 strong innings of work, he allowed just 5 hits and 1 earned run, he walked just 1, but also just struck out 1. Griffin pitched to contact tonight, and the defense rewarded him with an error-free game. Evan Scribner resumed his role as mop up extraordinaire with a neat and tidy 1-2-3 9th inning.
With the win the Athletics completed a perfect 6-0 road trip to start off the season, the last time they accomplished that feat to start a season was 1990 when they went to the World Series last. Not jumping to that kind of conclusion though. But this road trip speaks volumes about the intentions of the Athletics in 2013. They are not content with the successes of the past, they are intent on building on them for the future. Whether it’s Coco Crisp going deep in 4 straight games, Brandon Moss driving in 9 runs during the first two games of the Angels series, or Jed Lowrie cementing himself as the team’s everyday shortstop, this team has made statements all across the board.
This weekend the Detroit Tigers come to Oakland as the two teams rekindle a little bit of the fire from last year’s ALDS. Max Scherzer (1-0, 7.20 ERA) takes on Bartolo Colon (1-0, 4.50 ERA) tomorrow night in what should be an interesting game to say the least. The 8-2 A’s are rolling, we’ll see if anyone can stop them.