Down 13 games at one point, the A’s beat the Rangers two straight times to force a showdown for the American League West. And they would complete the sweep, the regular season, and their improbable run to the playoffs with a swamping 12-5 win over the Rangers in front of a rocking sold out crowd.
Offensive outbursts in the fourth and eighth innings played a huge role in their 12 run routing. Oakland started the inning by having four straight batters reach base. Brandon Moss walked after driving in the first run of the game in the first inning. Josh Reddick doubled him home, Josh Donaldson singled, and Seth Smith drove in Reddick to make the score 5-2.
The inning was yet to unravel, though. Coco Crisp smacked a two-run double, and Josh Hamilton made a costly error for the Rangers, dropping what would’ve been an inning end out. Instead, the A’s broke the 5-5 tie with Yoenis Cespedes’s dropped fly ball. Cespedes slammed his bat down in frustration only to find out that Hamilton lost track of the ball in the breezy wind, allowing two more runs to cross the plate as the O.CO Coliseum erupted.
The Rangers’ defensive woes warped them again in the eighth inning. With the score at 8-5, Derek Norris smashed a solo home run onto the scoreboard in left field to leadoff an eventful inning. Oakland then loaded the bases thanks to an error by Ian Kinsler who was trying to flip the ball to the shortstop Elvis Andrus to turn the double play. Cespedes followed with a walk to set the table for Brandon Moss. Moss, who already had an RBI in the game, added two more to his total with a bases clearing double. An error by Nelson Cruz in right field allowed the A’s to score that third run.
A.J. Griffin, in his biggest start of his life, struggled mightily. He gave up six hits in the third inning, and allowed four earned runs overall. Evan Scribner relieved Griffin with two outs in his disastrous inning. Griffin, however, would be bailed out by his stable bullpen that logged 7.1 innings and didn’t allow a run on four hits. Scribner picked up the win, pitching three innings and allowing just two hits.
Tuesday night, Grant Balfour was hesitant to guarantee a win today (Wednesday). But he was about as sure as he could be without making a guarantee.
Balfour’s prediction was correct. He got Michael Young to fly out to centerfield and leaped into the arms of his catcher to begin the celebration. Fittingly, the on-field celebration ended with the closer taking a lap around the field doing “Balfour rage” for the right field section in the bleachers.