It’s the middle of summer, but the Oakland Athletics apparently felt the need to do some serious raking. A day after putting up a 10-spot on the Angels, the A’s offense was back at it again on Monday night in Oakland. This time the Green and Gold put up nine runs on 11 hits on their way to a 9-4 victory.
The A’s jumped on Toronto starter Esmil Rogers early as the first four batters of the game reached base. Coco Crisp walked, Eric Sogard reached on an error, Jed Lowrie singled home Crisp and then Yoenis Cespedes drilled a triple to plate Sogard and Lowrie to make it a 3-0 A’s advantage before an out had been recorded. Cespedes eventually came home on a Josh Reddick sacrifice fly giving Oakland a healthy 4-0 cushion.
That 4-0 lead expanded in the bottom of the third. Brandon Moss singled to lead off the inning and went to second on a Josh Donaldson groundout. Then Seth Smith came up with two outs and a 0-for-30 streak draped over his shoulders. He promptly shed that ugly theoretical accessory by lacing an RBI double down the right field line to put the A’s on top 5-0.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of things, A.J. Griffin was spinning a perfect game through 4.1 innings. The perfecto, no-hitter and shutout were all lost with one swing of the bat from Adam Lind with nobody aboard and one out in the fifth. Lind crushed an opposite-field homer into the left center field bleachers to put the Blue Jays on the board.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Swingin’ A’s struck back. Moss and Donaldson both singled with one out, and both scored on a Josh Reddick double to left center. Smith followed with his second hit of the night to put runners at the corners, then Stephen Vogt smacked a single to right field to score both runners and put the A’s firmly in front, 8-1.
The seven-run cushion diminished rapidly, however, as Griffin’s inability to keep opposing hitters in the ballpark came roaring to the forefront. Brett Lawrie homered to lead off the top of the sixth, and later in the inning Edwin Encarnacion launched a deep two-run homer to cut Oakland’s lead to 8-4.
In the bottom of the eighth the A’s got a run in a way they haven’t gotten a run since June 21. Cespedes took a Brett Cecil pitch at the knees and turned it around inside the left field foul pole for a solo home run.
Griffin did manage to battle through seven innings while allowing just four hits, but three of the four hits were homers. This problem has become a bad one for Griffin. He’s surrendered a Major League high 26 home runs this season. The home runs come because Griffin doesn’t throw hard and pounds the strike zone, leaving him susceptible to the long ball. What he could try doing is mixing in more off-speed stuff. In just his second season the big lefty is still working on perfecting some of his breaking pitches, but he needs to incorporate them more if he wants to keep balls from flying out of the yard.
Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins each worked a scoreless inning in relief as the A’s notched their 63rd win of the season and maintained their six-game lead in the American League West.
Oakland will look to clinch a series victory on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Bob Melvin will send Dan Straily to the mound to take on veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle.
– Seth Smith had a multi-hit game. It was his first since June 30.
–The A’s are 6-0 when Stephen Vogt gets a hit.
–Yoenis Cespedes drove in three, it was his second consecutive game with multiple RBIs after not having one for two weeks. The A’s are also 27-4 when Cespedes drives in a run.
–Cespedes also had his first career back-to-back three hit games (via @MikeSelleck).
–Eric Sogard’s seven-game hitting streak came to an end in his first night hitting in the second spot. It’ll be interesting to see if Bob Melvin keeps him there or sends him back to ninth where he thrived.
–Seven of Oakland’s starters had a hit, all nine reached base, and seven of the nine players scored at least one run.