A win is a win is a win. Right? As frustrating as these recent weeks have been, and we’ve seen the A’s have lost 8 games in the standings, the Oakland Athletics absolutely have to take each and every win they can get. This one was certainly not a pretty one, but it counts just the same and pulls the A’s back to within just 1/2 game of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. That’ll do just fine.
The story of this game has to be missed opportunities, specifically for the Cleveland Indians who were the recipients of nine walks by Athletics pitching, but managed to strand an astounding 13 runners on base. A.J. Griffin was not sharp for the tonight, but he managed to avoid the big inning from the Indians, and the A’s were able to jump out to an early lead that would at least build the foundation for tonight’s win.
Yoenis Cespedes launched a hanging Justin Masterson slider into the waiting glove of a fan in the left field bleachers to give the A’s a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. The home run was his 20th of the season. Griffin would wobble in the top of the second, working around a single and two walks with the help of a double play ball from Yan Gomes. He wouldn’t be so fortunate in the top of the third inning though. Carlos Santana singled with Nick Swisher at first base, and on the play Josh Reddick attempted to throw out Swisher advancing to third base. Never has the term “air-mailed” been so appropriate as it was to describe Reddick’s throw. It sailed well over the leaping attempt of Josh Donaldson and ricocheted off the top of the dugout, thus awarding Swisher the extra base to score.
Griffin would get into trouble again in the top of the fifth, but would avoid damage by leaving the bases loaded. Griffin would depart after 5 innings, he allowed 4 hits and 5 walks, he also struck out 3. After walking six in his previous start versus the Blue Jays, his five walks showed that perhaps there has been a change in the mindset of Griffin on the mound. We all know about the massive amount of home runs he’s allowed, and it would make sense that possibly he is becoming a bit timid about working in the strike zone right now. This will be a dynamic worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.
Dan Otero would work a scoreless sixth inning with a strikeout. Sean Doolittle wasn’t so fortunate thought, allowing the trying run on two hits and two walks. The A’s would battle back though, and retake the lead after Eric Sogard followed a Stephen Vogt single with an RBI double. Sogard was thrown out at third attempting to advance on the throw to the plate to end the inning. Ryan Cook would work around a walk and a hit in a scoreless eighth. Grant Balfour work also work aroudn a walk and a hit in the ninth to register his 31st save of the season.
This was a big win for the Athletics for two reasons. The biggest reason of course being that the Rangers lost to the Seattle Mariners tonight, so the A’s are now just 1/2 game behind them in the AL West. The second reason is that Justin Masterson is the ace of the Indians staff, and now the A’s have a reasonable shot at winning this series after losing four of their last five. They will send out Dan Straily (6-6, 4.19 ERA), who pitched very well on Monday in Toronto after struggling lately, he’ll be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.11 ERA). Jimenez can be extraordinarily dominant, or he can be extremely wild, if he’s the latter then the A’s will have to play a little old fashioned “lawyerball” in order to get to him. It is Yoenis Cespedes bobblehead day, so if anyone should have a big day it should be the man who dons #52.