The Oakland A’s have put themselves in prime position to win the AL West. With a 3-1 A’s victory tonight at the O.Co Coliseum, the A’s and Rangers will duke it out tomorrow afternoon to decided who wins the division.
Travis Blackley was simply phenomenal tonight, rebounding strongly from his two previous starts, which did not go well from him. The Australian rookie was unfazed by the pressure of a big game, and his line proves it: 6.0 innings pitched, three hits, one run – against one of the most potent offenses in baseball. That one run came in the third when Josh Hamilton doubled in Ian Kinsler, who scored from first to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. Other than that one rough spot, Blackley was nearly perfect.
The A’s offense would eventually come alive against Rangers’ ace Matt Harrison, and provide some support for Blackley. Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss led off the fifth inning with back-to-back hits, setting up second and third with nobody out. The next batter, Derek Norris, singled to right. The ball was juggled by Nelson Cruz, which allowed both Donaldson and Moss to come home. Just like that, the A’s took a 2-1 lead.
That lead would extend to 3-1 in the very next inning, courtesy of a Jonny Gomes home run to left field over the scoreboard. Gomes, one of the veterans on this team, proved the importance of experience in big games.
Sean Doolittle and the A’s bullpen relieved Blackley in the seventh, and they gave the Rangers absolutely nothing. Just like last night, Doolittle, Cook, and Balfour pitched one scoreless frame each to preserve the victory for the A’s.
The final showdown is tomorrow at 12:35 PM, as the A’s and Rangers battle it out one final time. The winner gets the AL West crown, the loser gets a wild card spot.
From one Bay Area sports fan to another, I simply cannot wait.