Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Twins was a crushing one. Josh Willingham burned the team that declined to retain his services once again, crushing two home runs including the back breaker against Ryan Cook in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was a tough pill to swallow, and created a major surplus of frustration. The A’s saw fit to burn off some of that frustration tonight in Minneapolis at the picturesque Target Field. Their victim: former top prospect of the New York Mets Mike Pelfrey.
Pelfrey has battled back from arm problems and Tommy John surgery to join the Twins rotation, and he hasn’t had the most effective season, and the A’s made sure to remind him of that. He cruised through the first inning without much issue, but after that things began to deteriorate. Back to back doubles by Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes got the A’s on the board in the second inning. Coco Crisp led off the third inning with his 19th home run of the season, and Brandon Moss added a soft RBI single to give the A’s a 3-0 lead. The Twins would get a run back in the bottom half, and probably thought they were in the process of getting themselves back in the game. Then came the fourth inning.
A hit parade of epic proportions ran through Target Field, and ran Pelfrey out of the game. The A’s would score five runs on seven hits before the first out was even recorded. The star of the inning though would be Stephen Vogt, who drove in the first and last runs of the inning with an RBI single, and a long two run home run that would leave the ballpark on a bounce. All told, 10 runs would cross the plate and the A’s would blow the game wide open en route to the victory.
The rest of the night would see many regulars relieved for the night, and would be highlighted by Jed Lowrie‘s 12th home run. We would see the likes of Jemile Weeks, Andy Parrino, Michael Choice, and Josh Reddick take over for the starters as early as the fifth inning with the game in hand.
The beneficiary of all this offense would be Sonny Gray, who worked just five innings while allowing two runs. His pitch count got a little high, and once he qualified for the win there was no reason to push him any further than necessary. He allowed four hits and three walks, he struck out seven. Tommy Milone, Pedro Figueroa, Pat Neshek, and Evan Scribner would mop up the win for the A’s, with only Milone surrendering a run on the first MLB home run by Eric Fryer in the sixth inning.
Daric Barton, Brandon Moss, and Stephen Vogt each contributed three hits to the A’s season high 22 hit attack tonight, with Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes, and Seth Smith each adding two. Lowrie drove in four runs altogether, and both Cespedes and Vogt drove in three.
Josh Donaldson suffered a scary hit by pitch on the hand by Mike Pelfrey in the third inning, but word from the clubhouse after the game according to Susan Slusser was that Donaldson would not need x-rays. They may have dodged a bullet on that one.
The Texas Rangers did not dodge a bullet though, getting swept today by the Pittsburgh Pirates (big ups on breaking the losing season streak by the way). With the loss, the A’s have built themselves a three game lead in the AL West with 17 games to play and a big three game set in Arlington looming over the weekend. The wild card race is getting a little crazy, with four teams within two games of the second wild card spot, the A’s would prefer to avoid that madness if at all possible. The A’s can take the series tomorrow morning as A.J. Griffin (13-9, 3.91 ERA) takes on Scott Diamond (5-10, 5.52 ERA) and can add an extra half game to their lead as they head to Texas.
Oakland finishes up their series with the Twins tomorrow afternoon, before embarking on a huge three game set in Texas, and then returns home for three against the Angels and four against the Twins. Make sure to grab some As tickets as they make their postseason push