A’s sweep Angels, reach best start in 11 years

ANGEL STADIUM — After blowing out the star-studded Los Angeles Angels 8-1 Thursday night to sweep the three-game series, the Athletics reached a high they hadn’t experienced at the beginning of a season in more than a decade.

Six straight road wins certainly overshadowed Oakland’s 0-2 start. Manager Bob Melvin said:

“Remarkable, it really was. You go on the road and you hope to play over .500 and when you reflect or when you go on the road each and every game you try to win and expect to win and to go 6-0 is pretty terrific”.

A.J. Griffin (2-0) tied his career high with eight innings pitched, scattering five hits, striking out two for the win.

Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes each homered for the Athletics.

Seth Smith had four hits and Chris Young also with a two-run double that secured Oakland’s eighth consecutive win.

Angels starter Jason Vargas lasted 5-2/3 innings giving up 10 hits and five runs, taking the loss.

The ballgame started as a pitcher’s duel.  It was scoreless until the third inning. Rookie Andy Parrino got his first Major League hit, legging out a double to left center. Parrino scored on a two out single by Jed Lowrie.

Anaheim would tie it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning,  on Howie Kendrick’s double on a line drive to left field scoring Josh Hamilton.

A stellar four-run 6th inning by the A’s put them ahead for the rest of the game. Donaldson’s two-run homer to left, gave Oakland a 3-1 lead. Donaldson spoke on his first home run of the season off Vargas:

“I was looking for fastballs in and he happened to throw a curveball. I just kind of sped the bat up a little and was able to hit the ball out of the park.”

After a pitching change for Kevin Jepsen, Young greeted the Angels’ reliever by hitting a two-run double to left, scoring Smith and Coco Crisp.

The A’s would dominate the rest of the game. Cespedes’ hit a lined shot into the Angels’ rockpile in left-center. Cespedes had been struggling, but his contribution didn’t surprise Melvin:

“We’ve seen that many times – as a matter of fact, if you watched BP today, you probably saw it three more times, so it doesn’t shock us anymore how far he hits.”

Up 6-1 going into the final inning, Smith would dash the Angels’ hopes for a comeback. His line drive double to right cleared the way for Derek Norris and Donaldson to score.

The sold-out 43,533 crowd at Angels Stadium began dispersing after the seventh-inning stretch, like the 11-5 A’s win the night before.

Melvin was pleased with the final game of the series. He told SFBay:

“We really played a full game today, where pitching was good, defense good, base running was good, clutch hitting. This was probably our best game all the way around.”

Much of the credit went to Griffin, who had 110 pitches in eight innings, preserving the bullpen. Griffin said of his performance:

“It was a tight ball game there and you just never lose faith. These guys are always going to go out there and put together good bats and always come out on top, so you just keep throwing strikes and keep trying to get guys out and good things happen.”

The Athletics are back home Friday 7:05 p.m. against the Tigers who knocked them out of the playoffs in the division series last year. Melvin said his team struggled last year but expect to win some games this time. Added Donaldson:

“We’ll get a little payback, hopefully.”

Notes

Oakland’s 8-2 record to start a season is its best since 1992, when that A’s squad also won the AL West. … Young’s double was the 200th of his career. … The last time the A’s swept a road trip of six or more games was a 10-0 August trip in 2002 when the Athletics set the American League record with 20 wins in a row. … The Angels 2-7 record is their worst since their inaugural season in 1961.