The Oakland Athletics cruised to their eighth win in a row with their seemingly unstoppable offense and seven strong innings from A.J. Griffin, and there’s little doubt as to who the better team is at this point in time after Oakland outscored the Los Angeles Angels 28-11 this series and completed the sweep over a team that many thought would be dominating the AL West this season.
The A’s came in and picked up right where they left off against the Houston Astros, and they put an exclamation point on the amazing stretch of play with a 8-1 win Thursday night. Whether it was hitting ground balls through the infield gaps, hitting long drives in between the outfielders, or simply launching home runs over the fence, the A’s (8-2) just kept scoring, and the Angels had no answer as they fell to 2-7 on the season, matching their second-worst start in franchise history. The Athletics went undefeated on a six-game road trip for only the third time in Oakland history.
Griffin had one of the best nights of his young career, going eight innings and allowing only five hits and one run. He certainly has enjoyed success against the Angels, going 16 innings with one run, 11 hits and striking out eight in his two starts against the division rival.
The offense is coming from everywhere over the past eight games for the A’s, and they get better as the game goes on. They’ve scored 32 runs in the middle innings (4-6) this season, and 13 in the seventh. They have 27 two-out RBI on the year, and just like last year’s team was never out of a game, this year’s offense is never really out of an inning.
The game took the shape of a pitcher’s duel early on, but after being tied at 1-1 through five innings, Oakland broke out for four runs in the sixth. After Derek Norris doubled to right field off Angels starter Jason Vargas with one out, Josh Donaldson got ahold of a curveball that moved inside on him and put it in the Angels’ bullpen over the left field fence to give the A’s a 3-1 lead. Seth Smith double in the next at-bat, and after a fly out by Andy Parrino and an intentional walk to Coco Crisp, Mike Scioscia decided to bring in Kevin Jepsen to face Chris Young. Young responded by shooting a fastball down the left field line to clear the bases and increase the lead to 5-1 on a double before Jed Lowrie struck out to end the inning.
Yoenis Cespedes smacked a solo shot to center field in the seventh to make it 6-1, his third homer of the season, and the A’s added two more in the top of the ninth for good measure. For as many stats as writers and statisticians have at their disposal to point to for an explanation of Oakland’s success, there’s no real way to quantify the feeling surrounding this team. Chemistry and contributions from the entire order was a huge factor in the A’s run to the playoffs last year, and whatever Bob Melvin does to foster that environment has without a doubt carried over into 2013.
While fans would love to think they’ll keep it up the entire season, it’s still very early in the year. The A’s have a big series coming up against the Detroit Tigers, where they’ll look to prove that it’s not a fluke that they’re currently one of the best teams in all of baseball. And what better stage to do it than at home against the team that ousted them from the 2012 playoffs and represented the American League in the 2012 World Series?
Bartolo Colon will get the call Friday night against Max Scherzer, followed by Justin Verlander against Brett Anderson on Saturday afternoon. Jarrod Parker goes against Anibal Sanchez to close out the series Sunday before the A’s get another three games against Houston. Stay with us as we’ll have all the latest news on Oakland’s wildly successful opening month.