The A’s made it loud and clear to the Baltimore Orioles Saturday night: We are the real deal. In a playoff-like atmosphere, rookie pitcher Jerrod Parker and a band of young resilient players proved that they are an elite team.
Oakland used its recent model of success of timely hitting mixed in with great pitching and defense to beat the O’s saturday night.
After giving up a few runs early, the rowdy crowd was grasping for something to cheer for. And the A’s gave them just that. Stephen Drew led off the third inning with a laser into the right field seats for his second HR with the A’s. The crowd erupted, and opposing pitcher Zach Britton was rattled. Six of the next seven runners reached base safely, led by a two run double off the bat of Chris Carter.
The five run inning would be all the A’s needed, as Parker showed the moxie of a veteran taking control of the game.
“At this point of time in the season, really he’s no longer a rookie. He’s pitching in big games and he’s doing things we weren’t seeing him do comfortably earlier in the season,” Melvin said after the game. “He’s able to recover and make some adjustments, that’s maturity in a pitcher.”
The A’s made incredible defensive plays to aid Parker, including a tarp leaping catch deep in foul territory by Donaldson, and a perfect relay from Cespedes to Drew to Norris to throw out Adam Jones in a bang-bang play at the plate.
The 5-2 victory clinched the season series for the fifth consecutive season for Oakland, this year ensuring the A’s would get home field in a one game wild card playoff if both teams are tied at the end of the year.
However, with momentum rolling there is no reason to believe that the A’s eyes aren’t set at taking the AL west crown. Since June second (the day Oakland snapped its season high nine game losing streak) they are 62-31, the best record in Major League Baseball.
“We’ve gotten better as the year has gone on, and we’ve gained confidence from that,” stated Melvin.
Texas’ division lead after a loss saturday night is down to just two games. Seven of the A’s final 17 games are against the Rangers, with the season series currently split at six games a piece.
The A’s will send Dan Straily to the mound sunday looking for a sweep of Baltimore. Straily is one of four rookies currently in the five man rotation, with 24 year old Brett Anderson serving as the most experienced Oakland starter.