A’s walk their way to a win
O.CO COLISEUM — Everyone has an older relative who tells tales of walking five miles, uphill through snow, just heading home from school.
For the A’s Saturday evening, it was true. Just without the exaggerated distance and snow.
Twins pitchers walked ten A’s batters in the first five innings as Oakland beat Minnesota for the 12th straight time Friday night by a score of 9-4.
A’s Manager Bob Melvin paid his respects to Jeff Samardzija (W, 6 IP, 5 K, 2 ER), who picked up his first night-time win since August of 2013. Melvin added some commentary regarding catcher Derek Norris:
“His at-bats have been much better against right handed pitchers this year. Therefore, getting more reps against righties. And look at his numbers.”
Norris hit his 10th home run of the season in the sixth inning, a shot to left field, scoring three runs, leaving Melvin something to joke about after the game. Norris also walked in two runs, recording five RBIs total.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Norris has a knack for big blasts this season, as seven of his 10 home runs this season have come with two-or-more runners on base.
What’s more for the 25-year-old catcher, Saturday his the third game of the season with five or more RBIs. One of those came on Mother’s Day.
As for the walks allowed by Twins starter Trevor May (L, 2 IP, 4 ER, 7 BB), the rookie right-hander had the worst debut one could have.
May threw 63 pitches, less than half of which were strikes.
Samardzija made his own mistakes, though, allowing two runs through six innings. One of them came early, after allowing second baseman Brian Dozier aboard, third baseman Trevor Plouffe nailed him for the first run of the game.
Plouffe knocked in the second run of the game on a groundout to short to close the gap to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Stephen Vogt slammed a pitch into the outfield bleachers to plate Josh Reddick and give the A’s a 6-2 lead.
The A’s continued to pour it on during the sixth inning, on the three-run Norris shot that gave Melvin a chuckle. The homer gave Oakland a comfortable 9-2 lead, later closed to 9-4 on a double from Jordan Schafer and a sacrifice fly from Dozier.
While Samardzija hadn’t been as sharp as he has earlier in the season, Melvin spoke to May’s first start:
“He’s been a strike-thower in the minor league. When you get a new pitcher, where the potential is there (for strikes), and couple that with a full house in this park, and you can make him a little nervous. So we did a good job of laying off some pitches and getting some guys on base and making him work.”
Twins pitchers threw 179 pitches, while the A’s bullpen had their own folly.
Until Saturday, the Oakland bullpen was one out shy of a 30 inning scoreless streak. Dan Otero, while throwing 26 strikes on 38 total pitches, allowed five hits.
To Otero’s credit, he didn’t allow a single walk.
Samardzija didn’t allow something he’s allowed in each of his last five starts — a home run. Both runs he allowed were on contact of the cheaper variety, particularly Plouffe’s groundout RBI.
Patience at the plate is paying off, too, with second baseman Eric Sogard picking up a career-high four walks —which is an A’s season high as well.
The first five innings were reminiscent of the film Moneyball, where Brad Pitt, playing Oakland general manager Billy Beane, asked one then-overlooked question.
Can he get on base?
Josh Donaldson did, as has become the norm, and now has a 16-game hitting streak. Donaldson went 3-for-4, with a hit by pitch and two RBIs.
The Oakland Athletics are a season-high 28 games over .500 and have won 16 of the last 21 home games and 34 of the last 45. Oakland has a 12-game winning streak against the Twins, which is the longest such streak in Oakland. … Oakland is 6-3 on the current 10-game homestand against Kansas City (1-2), Tampa Bay (2-1) and Minnesota (3-0).