It wasn’t pretty, but the Oakland Athletics got the job done on Friday night with a 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians to close the gap in the AL West race.
The game started off the right way, with a shutdown top of the first by A.J. Griffin and a Yoenis Cespedes two-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom half of the frame give the A’s an early 2-0 lead.
But Griffin wouldn’t make things easy in his five innings of work, when he allowed four hits, four walks, and somehow only one run that was unearned. The trouble began in the second, when Griffin allowed two walks and hit, but got out of the inning with the help of a double play and a strikeout. The unearned run came in the third, when Josh Reddick overthrew third base trying to throw out Nick Swisher on a hit by Carlos Santana, allowing Swisher to score.
The final pitch of the night for Griffin was a crucial one, as he got Michael Brantley to line out with the bases loaded and two out. Griffin had given up a double and two walks in the inning, and departed after getting out of the jam, surely breathing a sigh of relief.
After allowing the home run to Cespedes, Indians starer Justin Masterson really settled down, retiring 11 consecutive batters at one point.
Meanwhile, the Indians tied the game up in the seventh off of A’s reliever Sean Doolittle. Drew Stubbs hit a leadoff double, and Swisher knocked him in with a single to right. Doolittle then got the A’s in another jam, but consistent with the theme, he escaped a bases-loaded situation thanks to an Asdrubal Cabrera flyout.
Stephen Vogt snapped that consecutive retired batters streak in the bottom half of the seventh with a two-out single off of Masterson. Then Eric Sogard, the ninth-place hitter, smacked a base hit down the right field line that scored Vogt all the way from first, and the A’s retook the lead.
Even then, however, the win didn’t come easy. Ryan Cook escaped a two-out jam with runners on first and second, and closer Grant Balfour got lucky when Cabrera lined into a double play to end the game. Balfour had given up consecutive one-out singles, but Cabrera hit a bullet right at third baseman Josh Donaldson, who flipped to second to double up the Indians.
So it definitely wasn’t easy, nor was it very pretty. But the A’s pulled it out, and are now a half game back of the Rangers for first place in the AL West.