As the Oakland A’s turned back the clock to the year 1969, a time when Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Bert Campaneris, and Sal Bando called the Oakland Coliseum home, the 2013 Oakland Athletics dispatched the Los Angeles Angels thanks to a late inning pinch hit home run from Derek Norris. The game itself was shaping up to be a bit of a frustrating one as the A’s were unable to figure out young righty Garrett Richards for 5 innings. Richards wasn’t dominant, and was all over the place at times, even uncorking a pitch to the backstop on the fly, but the A’s were a bit jumpy and couldn’t get on the board.
But when you’re playing the Angels, the goal is always to get to their weakness which has been their bullpen. Dane De La Rosa, who had replaced Richards and walked Josh Reddick to start the 7th inning after hurling a clean 6th, an ill fated bunt by Chris Young would erase Reddick and put Young at first base. With the lefty Steven Vogt coming to back, the Angels went to their top lefty reliever Scott Downs, but Bob Melvin countered with Derek Norris. Norris would win the battle in quick and decisive fashion as he smoked a line drive home run onto the steps in left field to give the A’s a 2-1 lead. They would add another run on an RBI double by Jed Lowrie following a Coco Crisp single.
Tommy Milone was shaky at best this afternoon, but his only blemish came when Josh Hamilton absolutely clobbered a solo home run in the top of the 2nd inning. Over 7 innings of work he only surrendered 4 hits, but he also issued 4 walks while striking out 6. Of his 114 pitches only 68 were strikes. So while the Athletics pursue starting pitching upgrades, Milone tried to make his case to remain in the rotation in winning his 9th game of the year.
Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless 8th inning, working around a Mike Trout single and stolen base, striking out 2. Grant Balfour came in for the 9th, sending the crowd of 32,333 into full on rage mode, and sent the throngs of A’s fans home happy with a 1-2-3 9th for his 28th save of the season.
With this win, and the Texas Rangers 1-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, they now hold a 5 game lead in the AL West. The Angels, needing a sweep of this 4 game series to realistically get themselves back into the race for the division are now 12 games back, tied with the Seattle Mariners. The A’s have guaranteed themselves a series split, and can go for the win tomorrow as Jarrod Parker (6-6, 3.79 ERA) takes the mound against Tommy Hanson (4-2, 4.75 ERA). The A’s will wear their throwback uniforms once again because if it worked on Saturday it can work again on Sunday.