As the season comes to the September home stretch, the A’s continued their winning ways, clawing to within 1 game of division leader Texas on Sunday as they completed a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay.
A.J. Griffin continued the strong starting pitching of the A’s recently, and with the help of the long ball, Oakland beat the Rays 5-1.
“That’s where it all starts with us, with our starters. If they can get deep in games and pitch that well, it makes it a lot easier to finish out those games,” said Bob Melvin.
Griffin got plenty deep into the game, lasting seven innings and striking out seven while allowing just a solo home run and scattering four other hits. The righty had control of all his pitches, walking just one batter, as control has been an issue in his past few starts.
The A’s jumped out to an early lead in the first inning as Coco Crisp continued his hot streak, launching his career high-tying 16th home run of the season.
After getting a go-ahead RBI from Brandon Moss in the third inning, former Ray Stephen Vogt added an insurance run in the seventh inning with a towering home run to right field after a long at bat of fouling tough pitches off. The catcher, who collected his first major league hit earlier in the season with the A’s, was 0-25 in 18 games spent with Tampa Bay last year.
Vogt also contributed to the victory with his defense. On a ball hit to left field in the seventh inning with a runner on second base, Yoenis Cespedes fired the ball into the infield, where it was cut off by third baseman Josh Donaldson, who in turn threw home to Vogt, who after forcing a wide slide tagged out the potential tying run in Wil Myers as he attempted to dive at the plate.
“I knew it was going to be a play where I had the ball before he got there and my biggest thing was trying to take away the plate and either make him come through me or have to slide around like he did,” Vogt said.
The red-hot A’s, who have won six of their past seven games, will host Texas for a three game series starting Monday afternoon with huge playoff implications. Dan Straily (7-7, 4.41) will take the mound against the division rival Rangers and Derek Holland (9-6, 3.00) at 1:05.