Oakland, CA – Eric Sogard doubled in a run and the A’s regained the lead bottom of the seventh frame. No better way than to start the series and stay ahead four and a half games over the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card race.
Oakland’s 3-2 victory over the Tribe also cut the Texas Rangers lead to a half a game ahead in the American League West. The Rangers remain atop the division. But no worries, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played.
A.J Griffin scattered four hits over five innings, surrendering one run, walked five and struck out three. Not his best work but the bullpen came in and backed him for the win. Griffin has allowed 11 free passes over his past two starts.
“I had a tough time getting in a groove there,” said A.J. “I was missing with my location just a little bit, referring to the walks. I just tried to battle through it and give us a chance to win. I feel like I did a good job of keeping us in the game and the bullpen did a great job coming in.”
“Seeing him throw 104 pitches after five innings is a little against the grain for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The ball was up in the zone at times which you don’t normally see from him, either. He battles himself but still ended up getting the big out for us to end the fifth with the bases loaded.”
Cleveland finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding 13 along the way. Oakland’s defense was excellent in backing good pitching. The Tribe scored one run unearned in the third when Carlos Santana singled to right fielder Josh Reddick who over thew third base for the error.
Nick Swisher delivered a one run single off Sean Doolittle in the seventh to tie the game 2-2. But once again with the bases loaded Cleveland failed to rally a comeback. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a flyout to left field to end the inning.
“We’ll, always grind,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “They just have a talented bullpen. Normally, if you get to the starter, when you get that many pitches in the fifth, you feel pretty good about yourself. But they have some depth in that bullpen.”
Oakland got a great start when Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer to left field. His fifth home run in the last 16 games and 20th of the year. Cespedes hit five home runs earlier in batting practice. So, it was fitting to get those two runs early in the first.
Sogard’s play came up big in the seventh when he doubled on a line drive to Drew Stubbs and scored Stephen Vogt. Trying to advance an extra base, Eric was out at third on Stubbs throw from right field. Sogard’s batting .315 with 12 RBIs in 22 games since the All-Star break.
“Vogt got a good at-bat there,” Sogard said. “To get that single and get the inning going, that gave us a chance to score on them. I put one down the line and eased his wheels, he can run for catcher.”