Recap: Angels @ A’s Game 104
Wrap: Oakland 3, Los Angeles 1. A’s 61-43 (1st Place, 5 games ahead)
The A’s expand their lead to five games now in the American League West. An impressive mark and their widest margin of the season and frankly widest lead for a long time – September 28th, 2006 to be exact when the A’s and Barry Zito lost to John Lackey and the Angels in Anaheim. The A’s hitters got seven hits but really just one that mattered, a pinch hit home run by Derek Norris that gave the A’s a lead they would not surrender in a nice fairly well pitched game during which both teams sported great throwback jerseys.
This game really came down to one hit for the A’s. Norris pinch hitting for the 0-for-2 Vogt with Young on first took the first pitch he saw from Scott Downs and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead for Oakland. Later in the inning Lowrie would double home Coco to get an insurance run and close the books on Oakland scoring. Those two hits would be Oakland’s only extra base hits, overall the team went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven. Donaldson with an 0-for-3 game saw his batting average slip below .300 to .299 for the first time since May 13th when he finished a 1-for-4 outing against Texas that also dipped him to .299. Lots of A’s failed stranded runners in scoring position with two outs as Vogt, Donaldson, Young and Moss got into that game.
Milone pitched well. There has been some talk that if the A’s acquired a Jake Peavy or other frontline starter type that Milone could be optioned to Sacramento to make room – the other issue is Brett Anderson‘s pending return to the rotation or possibly bullpen too. Milone’s outing brought his ERA closer to 4.00 (4.03) as he went seven innings allowing four hits (including a solo Josh Hamilton home run which accounted for the only run) an uncharacteristcally high four walks and six K’s. On the year now, he has 6.8 K/9 – a rate higher than he has ever seen at the MLB level – 2.3 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 for a reasonable for the back end of a rotation 4.32 FIP and 1.1 WAR. Cook came in and pitched a solid eighth allowing a hit but striking out two before Balfour shut the Angels down pitching to the minimum in a perfect ninth.
Norris got the hit that got the A’s the lead. That’s all there is to it. His first pinch-hit home run on his first pinch-hit (previously he sported an 0-for-14 record in that role) turned a deficit into a lead. Doesn’t get much more hero than that in the sport of baseball does it?