The Oakland A’s inched closer to making the playoffs on Sunday afternoon behind the bats of Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, and lights out pitching from their bullpen.
A day after the their fourteenth walk off win, the A’s used their 2012 magic in the eighth inning. Cespedes broke a 2-2 tie with a mile high fly ball down the left field line for his twenty-third home run of the season. After Seth Smith singled, Reddick smashed his team-leading thirty-second home run into the second deck down the right field line, giving the A’s a 5-2 lead that would prove to be the final score.
The unsung hero of the game was the Oakland bullpen, as they bailed out Tommy Milone who lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his last start of the regular season.
Five relievers combined for 4 1/3 innings to allow just three hits and strike out five, putting the offense in position for more late inning heroics. During the three game series versus Seattle the A’s bullpen allowed only one run in 14 1/3 innings.
Grant Balfour earned his twenty-second save of the season with a perfect ninth inning as the roar of 21,095 fans thirsty for their first playoff appearance in six years echoed throughout the Coliseum.
The A’s will clinch a wild card playoff appearance with their next win, with three games remaining on the schedule. If the A’s sweep the visiting Texas Rangers, they will win the AL West.
“We’re just going to try and win tomorrow.” A relaxed Bob Melvin stated after the game, commenting on the logistics of making the playoffs. “I think we’re best suited just to do that and not worry about all the different variables. Its so emotional this time of year, your thoughts can go back and forth based on one scoreboard change. It is exciting, it is fun, its a bit of a roller coaster at times.”
If there had to be just one player on the A’s roster to be named the MVP of the season, it would be Cespedes, whose five-tool style of play has carried Oakland to the position that they are in. The A’s are 79-46 with Cespedes in the line-up, and just 12-22 without.
“I don’t know anyone that has as big of an impact on a team as Yoenis has for us. All the times he’s come up with big plays, big hits, big throws, on the bases… he means a lot to our team,” praised Melvin.
The A’s will look to celebrate a playoff appearance with a fourth consecutive victory Monday night versus Texas, as Jerrod Parker will take the hill against Martin Perez.