A’s jump on Angels to hold Wild Card pace

O.CO COLISEUM — It’s not often a team scores six runs on two hits.

But that’s exactly what happened Monday evening, as the Oakland A’s knocked Angels starter C.J. Wilson (L, 13-10, 4.61 ERA) out of the game before he finished a full inning.

Oakland beat the Angels 8-4, with six of their runs scored in the first inning. A’s starter Jeff Samardzija (W, 7-12, 2.88 ERA) pitched seven solid innings, improving to 5-5 since being dealt to the A’s.


Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

A’s Manager Bob Melvin said of Samardzija:

“He’s been terrific. And really, emotional, you get that kind of lift when you play behind him. He’s so into it. … There was so many guys that we’ve brought in who are really relishing the fact that we’re in a position to hopefully make the playoffs. It’s nice to have those guys who are so hungry for it.”

Samardzija is known as a strikeout pitcher. He’s a flame-thrower who beats guys who try a little too hard.

Monday, though, he deviated from that. He only struck out three batters, and walked nobody. He didn’t have to, with the A’s offense getting things done so early on.

Samardzija said:

“It means everything. When we put the second one up I was happy. I felt like with the way I was throwing, that was going to be enough. But then to go and add four more to that, and then (Stephen) Vogt add two more on later in the game, that’s what it’s all about.”

Oakland would add two runs in the seventh inning on a single from Vogt which scored Brandon Moss and Adam Dunn, though the first inning was the nail in the coffin.

With the bases juiced, Wilson walked catcher Derek Norris and sent in outfielder Sam Fuld. The next batter, first baseman Nate Freiman, met the same fate to send up third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Two singles and one error later, the A’s led 6-1. The Angels’ scored on a first-inning sacrifice fly from Mike Trout and later scored three more on an Albert Pujols long ball to deep left field.

Catcher Geovany Soto, who has hit safely in the last four games against the Angels, had some nice words about Samardzija:

“He was outstanding. Just to see this guy after a couple years and just see a young kid with a great arm. to see him mature the way he has in a starter role, it’s great to see. … I feel like earlier when he was trying to start, he was going all out in the first inning. He wasn’t setting people up, he was pitching hitters the same as he would with runners on base. You save your bullets when you need them, and he’s learning how to do that.”

The division win doesn’t hurt the Angels playoff hopes — the team clinched during Wilson’s last start, Wednesday Sept. 17 — but the A’s sorely needed a win.

In a Wild Card race and desperate for momentum, the A’s were patient and calculating at the plate. They would face seven different Angels’ pitchers with Oakland hitters striking out seven times while taking 10 walks.

Perhaps more importantly, the A’s offense came on singles and doubles, the type of hitting that helped earn baseball’s best record for the better part of the season.

Nobody seemed to press things. The defense was sound and there was only one error, committed early by outfielder Jonny Gomes, who bobbled a ball one too many times. Melvin said:

“That’s something we’ve done pretty well in the past, so it was good to see us take some walks and not try to be too aggressive, which is something we’ve been a little too much of recently.”

The A’s have scored eight runs in each of the last two games, and are beginning to look like they did in June. Soto said:

“It was good, especially after the run they had in the first inning. To come back and do that, it was pretty impressive. We mean business. We’re out here to win ballgames and win all the ballgames we can before October.”

Melvin shared Soto’s sentiment:

“We have to get there. We have to play like we did the last couple of days. We win a series against Philadelphia we have a nice game tonight, at least a start, score some runs which is something that will make you feel better. So hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.”

The A’s have two more home games against the Angels before heading out to fact the Rangers in Arlington on a four-game road trip to end the regular season.

Notes

Samardzija had his 16 inning scoreless streak snapped in the first inning on an unearned run but now has a 23-inning streak without allowing an earned run. … Coco Crisp is batting .319 with 10 runs in 14 games against the Angels this year. … Outfielder Sam Fuld is batting .169 in 20 September games.


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