The last time Kurt Suzuki donned the green and gold at the O.co Coliseum was August 1, 2012 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Back then he wore number 8 and wasn’t contributing much offensively, this coupled with Derek Norris emergence made Suzuki expendable and he was sent off to the Washington Nationals. Tonight he made his return to Oakland, to a rousing ovation, donning the number 22 since his former numeral was taken by shortstop Jed Lowrie. Kurt made sure to thank the fans for the warm welcome back in a big way.
The A’s and Rays were locked in a tough pitchers duel as Jarrod Parker and David Price kept the offenses mostly quiet, save for an RBI single by Yunel Escobar in the second inning. An error by Ben Zobrist which broke an 81 game errorless streak for him opened the door in the fifth inning for the Athletics, a walk followed by Chris Young, which set the table for Kurt Suzuki who jumped on a first pitch change up and sent it over the left field wall for a three run home run. The A’s had waited for their chance against the tough lefty Price, and finally broke through.
Jarrod Parker didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but battled hard and was able to push through his problems in order to give the A’s a chance to win this game. He allowed just that one run in the second inning up until the eighth when Parker allowed a single and a walk before Ryan Cook came in to attempt to put out the fire. Cook would make pitches but would be unable to hold the lead after an Evan Longoria pop fly fell in to load the bases. Matt Joyce drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, and James Loney flared a ball to center field that Chris Young dove for but was unable to corral for a double that tied the game at three. Cook would strike out the final two batters though to keep the game deadlocked.
Much like the A’s after Thursday’s devastating loss in Detroit, the A’s bounced right back and retook the lead on the 40th double of the year by Jed Lowrie down the right field line. Grant Balfour took the mound to try and preserve the lead, putting his blown save of a day earlier in the rear view mirror. Balfour would work around a 1 out walk to nail down the save, his 34th of the season to give the A’s the victory in the first game of the series.
With the win the A’s overtake the Rays atop the wild card race. They also gained a game on the Texas Rangers who turned a Yu Darvish no-hit bid into the seventh inning into a loss thanks to back to back homers from Chris Hermann and Justin Morneau. If the A’s aren’t going to acquire Morneau, at least he can help them this weekend. Tomorrow’s matchup will feature a couple good young starters as Sonny Gray (1-2, 3.18 ERA) looks to rebound from his rough outing in Baltimore, he’ll be opposed by Alex Cobb (8-2, 2.87 ERA) as the A’s look to take this series.