The force was strong with the A’s Friday night, or at least so it would seem on Star Wars fireworks night at the O.co Coliseum.
And honestly, I am not sure how else to explain a pair of a misplays in right field by Twins’ outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and a very costly throwing error by third baseman Eduardo Escobar. It was as if the Yoda version of Stomper that toured the Coliseum prior to first pitch was using his Jedi powers on the Twins’ fielders on seemingly routine plays.
The error by Escobar lead directly to three A’s runs that pushed the score to 7-0 in Oakland’s favor. A wild pitch by reliever Ryan Pressly contributed another gift run.
Before errors ever became a factor in this game, though, Yoenis Cespedes provided a power surge with his 25th homer of the season in the second inning. Josh Reddick and Daric Barton each singled home a run in the frame as well to give Oakland a 3-0 lead.
They added a run in the fourth inning on another single by Alberto Callaspo to make it 4-0 before completely piling on in the fifth inning to break the game wide open at 9-0.
Four of the five runs that scored in the fifth inning for the A’s were unearned. Though, as it would turn out, the A’s really didn’t need any of those unearned runs to get the win.
Also channeling his inner Jedi and tapping into the force, A’s starter Bartolo Colon looked every bit the All Star he was named earlier this season. The 40-year old cruised through six innings, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out eight and not allowing a run. He improved to 17-6 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.64, the second lowest in the American League (fifth best in the Majors).
Bartolo should find himself on a healthy portion of Cy Young ballots this fall, likely headed towards a runner-up or no worse than third place finish in the voting (Max Scherzer seemingly has the award wrapped up at this point though).
Speaking of offseason award candidates, following a single by Coco Crisp to begin the sixth inning, Josh Donaldson further piled onto the Twins with a two-run homer, his 24th of the season, to push the blowout to 11-0.
Donaldson finished the night 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. He is currently top-10 in average (eighth), RBIs (tenth), 13th in both runs scored and doubles. He’s also in the top 20 in both hits and homers. Being one of the key contributors on the low budget, playoff bound A’s, should garner him some MVP votes in the process.
As a whole, the A’s offense collected 11 hits from seven different players. Norris, Callaspo and Reddick, in addition to Donaldson, all had multi-hit games.
Tommy Milone pitched two perfect innings of relief before handing the ball over to Evan Scribner for the ninth inning.
Jemile Weeks made his Major League debut as a center fielder in the ninth inning in place of Coco Crisp. Seth Smith, Michael Choice, Eric Sogard and Andy Parrino also found their way into the game as late inning replacements.
With their magic number now just two games, the A’s could clinch the Division Title tomorrow afternoon, though they wouldn’t likely earn the clinch until well after the completion of their own game. While the A’s and Twins square off at 1:05PM local time, the Rangers and Royals won’t get under way until 4:05PM, meaning the A’s will likely be hanging out in the clubhouse following the game gathered around the clubhouse TV to learn their fate.
With two home games remaining, though, the A’s control their own fate if they can win both, ensuring they clinch in front of the home crowd rather than having to celebrate on the road.