The A’s smelled blood in the water going into the Saturday night pitching matchup between ace-of-the-day Jeff “Shark” Samardzija and Trevor May, making his first career Major League start for the Twins.
Like a predator stalking its prey, the Oakland lineup remained patient early, drawing seven walks off the rookie over the first two innings, and made their knockout strike at the opportune moment with timely homers to take down Minnesota 9-4.
“It was outstanding [to receive the run support], it allows you to calm down a little bit, brings you back to center and makes you want to attack,” said Samardzija.
After an extended period of futility (scoring 3-runs or less in 5 of the last 6 games), the league’s top scoring offense broke out in the middle innings behind home runs from the burly combo of Stephen Vogt and Derek Norris.
After bases loaded RBI-walks in each of the first two innings, the no-doubt-about-it three-run shot in the sixth-inning off the bat of Norris effectively put the game out of reach, and established a new career-high in homers (10) for the All-star catcher.
“When runners get on base, that’s the time you make your money,” said Norris, who now has 47 RBI on the season.
Perhaps the most notable occurrence on social media during the game was the return of the “Rally Possum.” The marsupial phenomenon made its debut five days ago during Samardzija’s last start at O.co, and has taken the internet by storm as the trendy new mascot for the A’s.
“He likes me,” said Samardzija about the possum. “He shows up at the right time, he’s got a little ego on him, I like that.”
Overlooked in the shuffle of the game and the possum antics was the record-setting night for Eric Sogard. The A’s second baseman used every bit of his “rally specs” to collect four walks to become only the fourteenth player since 1914 to do so from the ninth spot in the lineup.
In 15 games since the All-star break, Sogard is batting .325 with 13 runs, 11 walks, and five RBI.
The A’s will look to complete a 4-game sweep of the Twins Sunday afternoon as Jason Hammel (1-4, 7.15) will attempt his second consecutive win opposed by Phil Hughes (11-8, 4.01). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PST.