The Oakland Athletics came into the 2012 season with no expectations after trading away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey. Instead of struggling and battling to stay out of the basement in the American League West with the Seattle Mariners manager Bob Melvin has the team thriving.
With the win tonight on the road against the Los Angeles Angels the A’s have clinched a winning season for the first time since 2006. Rookie A.J. Griffin illustrated why this season has been successful with his brilliant pitching performance. He went eight innings, did not allow a run, gave up six hits, struck out six and more importantly didn’t walk a batter.
At only one point in the game did he find himself in danger and that came in the fourth inning when Kendry Morales singled and Howie Kendrick singled to get Morales to third with only one out. Josh Reddick got an opportunity to throw out Morales and if third baseman Josh Donaldson didn’t drop the baseball an out gets made at third.
Griffin picked Donaldson up by getting Erick Aybar to foul out to first and then got Vernon Wells to fly out ending the inning without any damage.
For the A’s on offense it took advantage of a miscue by Aybar in the first inning. With two outs and Reddick on second after a double, Yoenis Cespedes hit a ball hard toward short that wasn’t handled cleanly and bounced toward center field allowing Reddick to score. The second run of the game came on a solo home run by Cespedes off of Angels starter Ervin Santana.
In the eighth two more runs got tacked on as Donaldson doubled moved to third on a ground out by Stephen Drew and scored on a double by Derek Norris. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp singled to score Norris giving the A’s the 4-0 advantage.
After Griffin threw 107 pitches Melvin went to the bullpen using left-hander Sean Doolittle and Pujols greeted him with a solo home run. He recorded the next two outs with each ball being hit hard before giving up a double to Aybar. Not wanting the Angels to pick up any momentum Ryan Cook entered and retired Wells on a ground out to short to end the ball game and pick up his 14th save.
Crisp also helped out defensively throwing out Chris Iannetta attempting to take third on a single and then made a spectacular running diving catch to rob Iannetta of a double.
Making the win more impressive is that the A’s took the first three games of a four game series, won their sixth straight game overall and matched a franchise record with 12 consecutive wins on the road.
Starting tomorrow afternoon for the A’s will be Brett Anderson who is the only pitcher who isn’t a rookie to make a start in the series and on the mound for the Angels will be Jered Weaver.