The Oakland Athletics got their 14th victory of spring training behind a single from Daric Barton to bring home the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth, and Travis Blackley narrowly avoided a Cleveland comeback to hold on for the 7-6 win.
Brett Anderson pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed three runs — two of them earned — on six hits while striking out one in his final tune up before he takes the hill Opening Day against the Seattle Mariners. Grant Balfour came on to pitch one inning in the seventh and promptly took care of business, and all signs point to him being ready for the start of the season.
Blackley continued to struggle, giving up two runs after entering the game in the bottom of the ninth. The tying run came on a wild pitch, and after the two-run top of the tenth from Oakland, he nearly allowed Cleveland back in the game again before inducing a groundout to end the inning, stranding Cleveland’s Matt Carson at third. Bob Melvin hinted after the game that it’s not set in stone as to whether or not Blackley will be on the Opening Day roster, and hopefully the Australian lefty can return to the form that he showed in his successful 2012 campaign soon.
Oakland continued their offensive success, and Yoenis Cespedes led the way with a two-run home run in the fifth off of a curveball from Cleveland starter Zach McAllister. Josh Reddick got things going for the A’s with a triple in the first, and he scored soon after on a wild pitch. Brandon Moss followed it up with an RBI double to give Oakland an early 2-0 lead. Cleveland added a couple runs of their own over the next couple innings, and Brett Anderson gave up a lead-off homer in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-2, Cleveland. Eric Sogard had an RBI double before Cespedes’ bomb to make it 5-3 after five innings, and that score would stand until Cleveland staged their ninth inning comeback.
It’s hard to believe it went by so fast, but tomorrow will mark the end of the A’s time in Arizona as they return to the Bay Area Thursday to take on the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Jarrod Parker will get the start as Oakland takes on the Colorado Rockies at 1:05 PDT. Get excited people, we’re six days away from regular season major league baseball.