by Charlie O. Mallonee and Jordan Chapin
Oakland – The Athletics have now won seven games in a row after sweeping a three-game series from the Wild Card contending Texas Rangers. The A’s completed the sweep with an 8-1 win on Sunday in front of 18,706 fans at the Coliseum on “Hecho en Oakland” Day.
This was also the second consecutive series sweep for the Athletics who took a three-game series from the Tigers in Detroit to wrap up a nine-game road trip. Oakland has now won seven consecutive games. That is their longest winning streak of the season.
The Athletics (72-83) have won 14 games in September – the most in any month this year.
Many experts will tell you not to fall in love with “September baseball”. There is some great wisdom in that statement. Rosters have been expanded. Players may be playing over their heads as they try to impress the front offices. Some veterans are just going through the motions. It is not a true barometer of what is going to happen in the future.
In the case of the Athletics, two very important things have happened in September that are worth noting for the future:
- This young Oakland roster has learned to win on the road. The A’s have been tough at home all season but have been terrible away from the Coliseum. This newly constituted roster of “young guns” has taken on the challenge from Bob Melvin and learned how to win on the road. That is a lesson that can carry over into April of next year.
- The Athletics also became a team that plays their division opponents tough. The A’s swept a four-game series from the Astros in September. Now they have swept the Rangers. Taking care of business with the teams in your division is the key to becoming competitive and moving toward becoming a playoff contender.
Pitching was a real key for the A’s
Jharel Cotton started the game for Oakland. He had to be scratched from his scheduled started start in Detroit due a strained groin. He showed no signs of having any problems with that issue during the game on Sunday.
Cotton threw his fastball at speeds of up to 95 mph and then would stop-down the change-up by as much as 15 mph. The Rangers hitters were just completely off-balance.
Cotton worked 5.0 – innings allowing no runs on just one hit. He walked one Texas batter while striking out six. Cotton threw 77 pitches (51 strikes).
Cotton set the side down in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
After the game, Cotton had nothing but compliments for the way his teammates played in the game.
Cotton is now 9-10 on the season and has the most wins for any rookie pitcher in the American League.
It was revealed after the game that Cotton experienced some tightness in his throwing elbow and that is why he did not continue after the fifth inning. He appeared to be fine in the clubhouse after the game.
Oakland exploded for five runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and added one in the eighth
The Athletics insured the win for Cotton by posting five runs off Texas starter Martin Perez (12-12) in the home half of the fifth inning. Catcher Josh Phegley led the inning off with a base hit and eventually eight batters would come to the plate.
The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Khris – yes you can call me “Krush” – Davis who hit his 41st home run of the year off Perez. It was a two-run shot that hit off the concrete wall just under the windows of the suites in straightaway center field.
Athletics in the batter’s box
- As a team: 8 runs on 10 hits, six men left on base, 5-for-13 with Runners In Scoring Position
- Phegley 2-for-3 with a double (11) and an RBI (10)
- Chapman 2-for-5 including two doubles (21) and two RBI (36)
- Khris Davis also recorded his 105th RBI
Oakland relief pitching
The relievers did not have a perfect outing as all four were not able to post “Goose Eggs” in the run column. Simon Castro – who worked 1.2-innings of relief – did give up one run on a solo home run to Normar Mazara (20). That was the only run the Rangers would score.
Daniel Coulombe, Santiago Casilla and Liam Hendriks combined to work 2.1-innings of scoreless relief for the A’s and preserve the victory.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was pleased with his team after the game
Melvin also spoke about team goals, the health of Matt Olson and Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling.
There has not been much mention of the Rangers in this article because for all intensive purposes their season came to an end today. They came into this weekend series still contending for a potential spot as a Wild Card team in the American League Playoffs. After the loss on Sunday, the Rangers are 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot with seven games remaining to play.
The Rangers final seven games are all home games. They have a three-game series with the Astros that begins on Monday and a four-game series with the A’s that begins on Thursday.
The Twins are on a four-game winning streak.
The A’s begin their final three-game home series of the season on Monday night with Seattle Mariners. RHP Daniel Gossett (4-9,5.38) will start for Oakland while Seattle will send “King” Felix Hernandez (5-5,4.57) to the hill.