The Oakland Athletics scored five runs in the sixth inning and Brandon Moss was a double shy of hitting for the cycle as the red-hot defending AL West champions broke away from the Los Angeles Angels, going on to win by a final score of 11-5. Moss tallied five RBI’s, matching his career-high, and he served as the catalyst for an Athletics offense that has outscored their competition 57-23 over their seven-game win streak.
The A’s are off to their best start since 2003, when they won 96 games and the division, and for a team that had concerns about how they would perform at the plate this season, Oakland is showing that they have the talent and the poise to compete for the long haul.
Tommy Milone pitched five innings and struck out four while walking three, and although he allowed four runs on seven hits he was stranded seven Los Angeles baserunners and was able to get himself out of trouble when he needed to. He left the team in good shape as the A’s led 5-4 when Bob Melvin handed the ball off to Chris Resop, and the bullpen looked solid again, shutting down the Angels at the plate and guiding the A’s to sole possession of first place in the AL West after the Rangers lost to Tampa Bay Wednesday night.
If Melvin can keep his team playing like this, they’ll have to be considered the favorites to win the division, at least until someone can find a way to stop the roll they’ve been on offensively.
Coco Crisp was able to manufacture a run in the first, stealing second after a single to right to lead off the game and crossing the plate on a ground ball to second base by Jed Lowrie. This is the seventh straight game Crisp has scored in, and he set the tone early again for the A’s tonight.
They added three more runs in the third. After reaching second on a fielding error by Josh Hamilton, Eric Sogard was brought home by a single from John Jaso. Jed Lowrie followed that up with a single of his own, and Brandon Moss ripped the first pitch he saw from Joe Blanton down the right field line to bring both of his teammates home on a triple to make it 4-1.
The Angels tried to keep pace with the A’s, but they could never really break through against Milone. Once the game was in Oakland’s bullpen’s hands in the bottom the sixth, the A’s had extended their lead to 9-4 off of two bases-loaded walks and a tw0-out rally that scored three more in the top of the sixth.
Moss hit a towering shot in the fifth that was reminiscent of his homer last night, and a single to bring home Crisp in the seventh put him a double away from the cycle. Josh Reddick had told him about what was at stake in the dugout, and although he got his chance to complete the task in the ninth, he drew a walk with two outs instead, which must have made the Moneyball part of Billy Beane’s brain happy.
The A’s go for the sweep of the Angels tomorrow night before traveling back to the Bay Area to take on the Detroit Tigers in a rematch of last year’s playoff series that ended in a deciding fifth game in Oakland. A.J. Griffin will pitch for the A’s, while Jason Vargas takes the mound for the Angels.