It’s been a bit of a rough stretch for the Oakland Athletics, after winning 18 of 21 games at one point, the team had slipped into a bit of a slump in just about every facet of the game. Perhaps it was the fact that they were playing 30 games in 31 days, which innings-wise turned out to be 31 games in 31 days thanks to that 18 inning marathon versus the Yankees. Nevertheless the team was in desperate need of some down time, and they got just that on Monday upon returning home. They came into tonight’s tussle with the Cincinnatti Reds rejuvenated, and it showed almost immediately.
The soft tossing Tommy Milone took to the mound for the A’s today, opposed by the musically inclined, high kick windup, long haired Bronson Arroyo. He’s had a very solid season thus far, and when he’s on his game he can be very difficult to figure out. His mix of movement and deception, to go along with a devastating slow curve can give hitters fits. But the Athletics weren’t impressed tonight.
After a Brandon Moss double followed by a Josh Donaldson infield single set the A’s up nicely in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Josh Reddick got them on the board with a nice RBI double. Then the newest Athletic, catcher Stephen Vogt who had just been called up to replace Dan Straily, came to bat with Donaldson at third and got him in with a sacrifice fly, the first RBI of Vogt’s career. The Athletics would put another crooked number on the board in the 3rd inning when a Coco Crisp walk, and a Jed Lowrie single set the table for Yoenis Cespedes. He went with a pitch on the outer half of the plate and drove it into right field for the RBI single to give the A’s a 3-0 lead. Brandon Moss added another run with a sacrifice fly. Then the big blow of the game came off the bat of Josh Donaldson, who launched the Arroyo pitch well into the left field bleachers for a 2-run shot to give the A’s a 6-0 lead. Seth Smith would add the final run on an RBI single in the 4th.
Tommy Milone was a bit shaky tonight, having trouble finding the strike zone at times, and having no trouble finding the barrel of the bats of the Reds hitters at other times. Many long fly balls made for heart stopping moments, but Milone was able to wriggle his way out of trouble. The Reds got on the board in the 4th inning when Joey Votto deposited a Milone pitch over the wall the other way. A key play in the game took place on the next batter when Todd Frazier hit a would-be double off the wall in left field, Yoenis Cespedes played the ball perfectly and rifled it back to the infield to halt Frazier in his tracks. But by that time he had ventured into no man’s land, and would eventually be tagged out after a rundown. The Reds were starting to rally and could have had thoughts of a big comeback, but that out squashed those ideas for the moment.
Milone would only make it through 4.2 innings, and would be lifted in the 5th inning for Pat Neshek after walking three in a row, including forcing in the Reds third run. Milone allowed 3 ER all told, on 6 hits and 4 walks, he struck out 2 as he came up just 1 out shy of his 7th win of the season. Neshek would strike out Chris Heisey to end the threat. The combination of Neshek, Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Dan Otero would keep the Reds off the board for the duration of the game, despite having a scare in the 6th when Joey Votto represented the tying run as he batted with the bases loaded, he flew out to end the inning.
With the victory the Athletics move back into a tie for first place with the Texas Rangers, who lost to the New York Yankees on an Ichiro Suzuki walk-off home run. They finish up this short two-game set tomorrow afternoon as A.J. Griffin (5-6, 3.90 ERA) takes on Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.75 ERA). It’s Root Beer Float Day, so many players, former players, and local celebrities will be serving the delicious treats for charity before the game. It’s always a great event, and I for one will not miss an opportunity to get my float on.