Nearly perfect Lester leads A’s 3-0 win
O.CO COLISEUM — Jon Lester pitched the best game of his career Thursday.
Lester made it through the first five frames without allowing a runner as the A’s (70-44) rolled over the Twins (51-62), 3-0.
He also got support from three A’s hitters, who haven’t been hitting lately. John Jaso and Brandon Moss each snapped hitless streaks of 18 plate appearances, while Vogt had stepped up 23 times with nothing to show.
Vogt was the first to snap out of trouble at the dish. In the third, after an Alberto Callaspo walk, Vogt took a 2-2 offering from Yohan Pino (L, 5-2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER) into the right field bleachers. The shot gave the A’s an early 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Moss doubled, and came around to score on a double from Derek Norris. The RBI is Norris’ 42nd of the season.
Lester (W, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K), though, was the brightest spot. He mowed down the first 15 Twins in order, not allowing a baserunner until the sixth inning. Former Athletic and fan favorite, Kurt Suzuki broke up the perfect outing with a leadoff single.
On Lester’s night, manager Bob Melvin said:
“Everything was working. You could tell from the onset that it was going to be tough to score on him tonight.”
Lester recorded his fourth career complete game shutout and is now 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA over his last 10 starts. His 122 pitches ties a season high for the 30-year old southpaw.
The Twins mounted a rally in the sixth, in which they loaded the bases with two out. Brian Dozier, the Twins home run leader with 19, hit a ball down the left field line that couldn’t have been more than a couple of inches foul.
In reference to his vantage point on the ball, Melvin smiled as he said:
“It’s one thing if you have a view, it’s another if your eyes are closed.”
Once the top of the seventh came to a close with the A’s holding a 3-0 lead, the odds were in Oakland’s favor.
By the 9th inning, Lester had only thrown 106 pitches. Melvin asked Lester if he wanted to go out there and finish up the game, and there was no hesitation. Lester wanted it.
Eric Sogard continues to impress, both in the field, while manning shortstop during Lowrie’s absence, and at the plate. Sogard went 2 for 4 on Thursday night, and is now 5 for 13 on the home stand.
The win, coupled with another Angel loss at the hands of the Dodgers, pushes the AL West lead for Oakland up to 3 games.
The A’s continue their series with Minnesota on Friday at 7:05 when Scott Kazmir (12-4, 2.53) takes on Kyle Gibson (10-8, 3.93).
The win gives the A’s 70 on the season. They are the first team to reach that mark this year. The win is also number 800 for Bob Melvin’s career.
Melvin is now the eighth active manager and 76th in Major League history with 800 wins. The A’s are 307-230 since he took over as manager June 9, 2011, which is the best mark in the majors since that date
Thursday’s shutout is the 11th for the A’s this season. Donaldson recorded his sixth stolen bag of the season, and Sogard got his ninth, putting the A’s success rate at just over 83 percent.