That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Oakland Coliseum Is Still in the Game

Photo credit: @WestCoastTurf

By: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

OAKLAND, Calif. — Discussions are starting this month by the City of Oakland in order to buy the Coliseum and the adjacent Oracle Arena.

This is what Karen Boyd spokeswoman for the City Oakland said: “The city of Oakland and Alameda County are aligned in the view that development of the Coliseum property would be simplified and streamlined with a single owner that controls all aspects of the future development process,” City Administrator Sabrina Landreth said in a statement to The SF Chronicle. “To that end, the city and county are engaging in discussions on the terms of an agreement that will be mutually beneficial. We will publicly discuss the outcome of these negotiations at the appropriate time.”

This is very significant because if the Athletics cannot build their new park at Howard Terminal, the current location of the Oakland Coliseum will be the one waiting on deck.

The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020. Their stadium is under construction.

The Golden State Warriors are moving in 2019 to Chase Center. Their stadium is also under construction in San Francisco. It’s within walking distance from the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park.

In September 2017, the Athletics officially announced that the Laney College location was their preferred location, but then in December, the A’s swung and missed strike one when the Peralta Community District Board of Trustees said no and added that they didn’t even want to start negotiating. Right now, the A’s management have their sights at the Howard Terminal, which BART doesn’t approve. but if they swing and miss strike two, they will have a count of 0-2 with one pitch remaining and that would be the place where they have been playing for over 60 years, the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.

Would the A’s even consider the rebuilding of the Coliseum to a much more baseball only, fan-friendly ballpark with a capacity of around 45.000? This will not be a face lift, but they will demolish the Coliseum, and rebuild a brand-new ballpark. If that materializes, the A’s will have to play their games in another park for the time being, while they build a new one at the current location. But that would be another show.

The saga of the new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics continues, which makes things look more like a Telemundo novela as the days go by.

It’s now or never for Raiders as Cowboys come to Oaktown for primetime battle in Week 15

Photo credit: @RAIDERS

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Oakland Raiders will host the Dallas Cowboys in a primetime game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday night. This will mark the end of Oakland’s home schedule for 2017. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. PST.

The game will be Oakland’s third appearance on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. They’ve played the Washington Redskins in Week 3 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.

For those who are interested, the Raiders are 1-1 on Sunday Night Football so far this season.

A loss to the Cowboys would officially eliminate the Raiders (6-7) from any postseason consideration, which was not what Oakland was hoping for coming into this season after making the playoffs for the first time since 2002 last season with a 12-4 record.

In Week 14, the Raiders fell flat on their faces losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-15, at Arrowhead Stadium.

Starting quarterback Derek Carr was mediocre at best, throwing for 211 yards on 24-of-41 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 60.1 quarterback rating. The Raiders offense was stuck in the mud for most of the game as Kansas City’s 30th ranked defense held Oakland scoreless through three quarters, while limiting the Silver and Black to just 268 yards of total offense.

On Oakland’s first five possessions of the game, the Silver and Black punted the football four times and Carr threw one interception. Starting running back Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing, registering seven carries for 61 yards and one touchdown. Lynch rumbled for a 22-yard touchdown with 8:51 left in the game to break the scoring seal for Oakland, who were already trailing 26-0 at this point.

Shockingly, the Raiders ran the football just 11 times against Kansas City, who are terrible in stopping the run. Teams are averaging 124.8 rushing yards against the Chiefs this season.

Tight end Jared Cook was Oakland’s top receiver, leading the team with 75 yards on five receptions and one touchdown. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree had a team-leading seven receptions for 60 yards.

The Raiders’ defensive unit recorded three sacks for the second straight week, two registered by outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. In Oakland’s past two games, Irvin has recorded an NFL-high five sacks during that span and is second on the team behind defensive end Khalil Mack (8.5) with 7.5 sacks. Mack and middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman each recorded a sack.

Bowman also led the team in total tackles (11) and had one pass defensed, while safety Karl Joseph recorded his first interception of the season–just Oakland’s second interception of the season; Bowman has the other one–off Chiefs’ starting quarterback Alex Smith.

Dallas (7-6) defeated the New York Giants, 30-10, at MetLife Stadium in Week 14. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 332 yards on 20-of-30 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 137.1 quarterback rating.

Entering Sunday night’s game at Oakland, Dallas will have their first regular season visit since 2005. Prescott has thrown for 2,752 yards with 21 touchdowns and just nine interceptions for a 91.6 quarterback rating.

The second-year quarterback is on pace for his second-straight 3,000-plus yard passing season.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant is Prescott’s top receiver and could feast on Oakland’s weak secondary this week. Bryant leads Dallas in receptions (61), receiving yards (712) and receiving touchdowns (six). 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten remains a red zone threat, ranking second on the team with five receiving touchdowns for 457 yards on 52 receptions.

With stud running back Ezekiel Elliott serving a six-game suspension, the Cowboys are powered by backup running back Alfred Morris. The sixth-year pro has racked up 485 yards on 97 carries and one touchdown.

Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is the big star of the defense, leads the Cowboys with 13.5 sacks this season. Lawrence has the ability to quickly get to the quarterback and with Oakland’s once stout offensive line giving up more sacks this season with 17 (after surrendering just 16 sacks all of last season), Carr must be on high alert for No. 90 on Sunday.

Defensive tackle David Irving is second on the team with 7.0 sacks this season, while safety Jeff Heath leads the Cowboys with 52 tackles. Eighth-year middle linebacker Sean Lee is second behind Heath with 51 tackles. Heath also leads the team with three interceptions.

Following Sunday’s game, Oakland will travel east for a Christmas Eve against the Eagles in Philadelphia next Sunday. Philadelphia (11-2) has clinched the NFC East Division and are looking to lock down the NFC’s top seed, but will have to do it without franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz tore his ACL in Philadelphia’s 43-35 victory against the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 14 while diving into the end zone on a hit from Rams’ linebacker Mark Barron.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: A’s ownership considering building near Coliseum site

by Amaury Pi Gonzalez

OAKLAND–The question was put to A’s co-owner and managing partner Lew Wolff where if not for Jack London Square’s Howard Terminal is the best place for the A’s? Wolf mentioned the Coliseum “would be where were at right now on land controlled by (the city and county).” Wolff made it clear that a Jack London Square park would be out of the question after a design of what it would look like on the Oakland Waterfront would look like.

There has been reports that if Wolff ever was to sell the A’s and he reiterated that he was no going to sell the club but if he were executives from Clorox bleech, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Warrior owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber were interested in buying the team. It was the first time since Wolff said he wanted to move the team to Fremont or San Jose that he would consider keeping the team in Oakland but it would not be in downtown Oakland.

The new design that was released on Wednesday is located next to the bay by the containers and the horse shaped cranes and would be in proximenty to Jack London Square which is prime downtown location for hotels and restaurant constructon if a new stadium was ever to be constructed there. The key here is that Wolff and co-owner John Fisher said they are not interested in the downtown location, what are you going to do? “All I care about is getting a new home for the A’s in the best possible circumstances, and under any circumstances Howard Terminal would be as close to impossible as anything.” said Wolff.

Wolff and Fisher for the longest while were not convinced that they could not have a place in Oakland but the Coliseum location seems to be of strong interest. Wolff likes that it’s all city and county property that would be all city and county property to build on the land spending public funds and Wolff would pay almost unheard of low rent. The suitors for buying the A’s Clorox, Dreyers and the Warriors would like to build a waterfront ball park in downtown Oakland and develop Jack London square into a shopping, hotel, and condo meca.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he was not in favor of getting rid of the team but that he said the A’s could not go to San Jose because of the San Francisco Giants territorial rights. We know the city of Oakland wants to keep the A’s we have to go to the Genises of this and Wolff doesn’t want the team at the waterfront but will consider building the team a new stadium at the Coliseum location.

Wolf says BART goes right to the Coliseum and that the only change would be the A’s would get a new park and be in the same location that they always have been in since 1968 and that’s in east Oakland at the Coliseum. Everytime the city of Oakland comes up with a new plan Wolff says it’s not doable. So that plan is what Wolff wants and he wants to build a new stadium for the A’s on public property at the Coliseum site.

Wolff wants to move the team to San Jose but he finally realizes now that he can’t because of the Giants territorial rights and baseball also would not allow it because the Giants would litagate against baseball and Selig does not want a side show over the A’s moving to San Jose. Right now it’s 50-50 and nobody knows how this is going to end up.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for Oakland A’s baseball and does That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

Bears squeeze past Oakland, 64-60 behind freshman Bird

By Morris Phillips

Friday night at Haas Pavilion, Oakland was a lot closer to Berkeley than anyone in a blue-and-gold uniform could bear.

The Grizzlies from suburban Detroit are known for their challenging non-conference schedule and armed with prolific three-point shooter Travis Bader, they gave Cal all they could handle in the Bears’ come-from-behind 64-60 victory.

“There was no question that Oakland played harder than we did,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.  “We were late to loose balls, we weren’t attentive to details.”

Oakland led by as many as nine points in the first half, and the game was tied with 2:10 remaining as the Grizzlies’ zone defense, hustle and the shooting of Bader, who finished with 21 points, kept Cal on its heels.

Cal managed to keep pace in the second half as freshman Jabari Bird heated up, finishing with a career-best 24 points, including six made three pointers.  Bird’s three with 1:59 remaining broke a 56-all tie and gave the Bears the lead for good.

“Basically, I caught it and was open and had been hitting three’s all night, so if we were going to lose this game, I wanted to lose the game with that… but it went in and we won,” Bird said with all the carefree wisdom of an 18-year old.

Justin Cobbs contributed 13 points and five assists, and Richard Solomon had 11 points and 17 rebounds to aid Cal’s cause.   Bader had assistance from Kahlil Felder and Tommy McCune who had 13 and 11 points respectively for Oakland.

Oakland fell to 0-3 with earlier losses to No. 12 North Carolina and No. 24 UCLA.  The Grizzlies played without second-leading scorer Duke Mondy and forward Dante Williams, who were accused of sexual assault in Southern California earlier this week.  The pair were cleared in an initial police investigation but suspended by the university pending further fact finding.

Cal improved to 3-0 on the season with a matchup with Southern Utah up next at Haas on Monday night.   The Bears improved to 36-6 in non-conference matchups during Montgomery’s five plus years as coach.

The Bears shot just 33 percent in the opening half as Oakland’s zone made Cal’s cumbersome mix of veterans and freshman a bit tentative.  At halftime and then early in the second half, an animated Montgomery did all he could to wake his guys up.

“We had five minutes alone, just sitting there silent, and then he came in and talked to us like it was a regular game,” Bird said of Montgomery’s halftime prodding.  “And then right before we walked out he said get the energy up and play like we know we can.”

A blast from the past:Telemundo ch 48 once televised A’s games in Spanish

[category Oakland Athletics]

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

OAKLAND–As we approach the 24th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, this Thursday the 17th, which stopped the World Series for eleven days, we must remember what was going on in 1989 and during those years.

Just after the Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants in that 1989 World Series, with two victories prior to the earthquake and two victories after the earthquake, KSTS CH 48 Telemundo would begin a schedule of weekend games live in Spanish of the four time World Champion Oakland A’s.

Then, General Manager, Joe Cruz, built a brand new set, colors Green and Gold, and authorized an expense of a few thousand dollars to build such a nice set. Yours truly was the Sports Director and Anchor those early years at Telemundo. The play by play of the games then were done from those studios, live, with a green screen in the background calling A’s games.

In this I Phone-Twitter-I Pad-Smart Phone and whatever else world we are living today, it is good to remember the many things that were done on radio and television. Like an old friend in the business tells me: “everything already has been done, at least once, although some people think they are re-discovering the world”.

Just one of my many memories in the business, which I thought was appropriate to remember during this week, when we celebrate 24 years since the earthquake that stopped the World Series for eleven days.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for Oakland A’s baseball and does News and Commentary each week for Sportstalk

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

OAKLAND–As we approach the 24th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, this Thursday the 17th, which stopped the World Series for eleven days, we must remember what was going on in 1989 and during those years.

Just after the Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants in that 1989 World Series, with two victories prior to the earthquake and two victories after the earthquake, KSTS CH 48 Telemundo would begin a schedule of weekend games live in Spanish of the four time World Champion Oakland A’s.

Then, General Manager, Joe Cruz, built a brand new set, colors Green and Gold, and authorized an expense of a few thousand dollars to build such a nice set. Yours truly was the Sports Director and Anchor those early years at Telemundo. The play by play of the games then were done from those studios, live, with a green screen in the background calling A’s games.

In this I Phone-Twitter-I Pad-Smart Phone and whatever else world we are living today, it is good to remember the many things that were done on radio and television. Like an old friend in the business tells me: “everything already has been done, at least once, although some people think they are re-discovering the world”.

Just one of my many memories in the business, which I thought was appropriate to remember during this week, when we celebrate 24 years since the earthquake that stopped the World Series for eleven days.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for Oakland A’s baseball and does News and Commentary each week for Sportstalk

Just marvelous, Justin Verlander


That’s Amaury News and Commentary

OAKLAND–There is a reason the Detroit Tigers gave Justin Verlander a 7-year extension(with an option for the 2020 season) for $180 million this past March.That is twice the total payroll of the Oakland A’s.  On game five of the American League Divisional Series, Verlander gave a pitching exhibition.

The Oakland A’s bats had no chance. Verlander was a master, mixing his over 96 mph four seam fastball, with a slider in the mid 80’s, an unhittable curve ball, (his best pitch last night), and an ocassional change,just to remind A’s hitter that on this night he was the devil, that produced 10 strike outs and zero runs for eight innings. Justin Verlander, has won just about everything a pitcher can win, except a World Series ring.

 He was the Rookie of the Year in 2006, he has two no-hitters, he has won a Cy Young and an MVP Award. Rafael Belliard, an old friend, and first base coach for the Detroit Tigers told me prior to game five at the Oakland Coliseum: “We are confident with Verlander, he is one of the best, and we have been focused on one thing, and one thing only- since Spring Training, going back to the World Series and winning this time”.

The Detroit Tigers were the favorites during last year’s World Series, but the Giants surprised everybody and swept them. After Miguel Cabrera hit his first home run of this postseason in the fourth inning, you knew the game was over. I made a remark on the broadcast that the way Verlander was pitching those 2 runs he had of support, seemed like 8 runs. Verlander did not allowed a runner until he walked Josh Reddick with one out in the sixth.

 He had a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh, until Yoenis Céspedes got a clean line shot for a base hit into center field. The best player this year for the A’s was Josh Donaldson, their third baseman, but the best athlete and best ballplayer is Yoenis Céspedes, and by-the-way he was their best hitter again in the postseason, establishing records for Oakland A’S in postseason.

But back to Justin. In two games, during this five game Divisional Series, Justin Verlander did not allowed a run and struck out 21 Athletics. Going back to the 2012 postseason, Verlander has pitched 30 consecutive scoreless innings against Oakland.

A crowd of 46,959 was rocking all night (not a sellout) traditionally games that start at 5PM at the Oakland Coliseum do not sell out, it is not a “comfortable”hour, and then to increase the traffic stress, there was a “Pink”concert next door at the Oracle Arena, which got starter around 7PM.

It was a good season for the Oakland A’s, they won their division for the second time in a row, but last night the best team won. Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera playing with one leg, is better than 40% of the regular players on the field that are 100%.

Congratulations Tigers, good luck the rest of the way. The Red Sox should not be easy, they never are, specially at Fenway.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for the Oakland A’s and does News and Commentary weekly for Sportstalk Radio

                                                      

Verlander again, and even more devastating

By Morris Phillips

Justin Verlander was so good Thursday, it didn’t matter that he repeatedly challenged Oakland hitters with fastballs that they normally salivate over.   The A’s were so concerned with Verlander’s other pitches—particularly his curve which baffled them in Game 2–they were mental messes, guessing, wailing but ultimately whiffing.

The team that built their late-season surge on big swings, big results was well on their way to the off-season in great part due to managing just one base hit in the first seven innings against their nemesis reborn in Verlander.

How good was Verlander?  Historically good.

Verlander stopped the A’s dead in their tracks in last year’s Game 5, throwing 122 pitches, striking out 11 and pitching a complete game shutout.  On Saturday night, in Game 2, he was dazzling again, shutting the A’s down for seven innings while surrendering just four disjointed base hits.

But on Thursday, he was even better, commanding four pitches and making the A’s look foolish.  The big righthander saw the A’s swing and miss 24 times, as the stubborn Oakland hitters refused to jump out of character, hoping to catch one of the heaters and send it a long way.

But the long balls never materialized.   Hits were hard enough to come by and trying to figure out Verlander was next was impossible.  Detroit manager Jim Leyland described it succinctly.

“He was locked in tonight,” Leyland said.  “He used the fastball a lot tonight and when you got that fastball, he’s got three well-above average Major League pitches and another one that’s at least average and maybe a little bit better.  When you’ve got four pitches above average and a couple of them really above average, you can shut down a lot of teams.”

Verlander’s pitched 30 innings against the A’s in post-season now and not surrendered a run.  That’s a new Major League record, one that hasn’t been messed with since 1911.  Christy Mathewson threw 28 scoreless, post-season innings against the A’s back then over a period of seven seasons.

“We weren’t getting very good swings on him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin admitted.  “I thought maybe when it started to get darker, we would get better swings, but he kept throwing fastballs.  I haven’t seen the video to see if he was on the corners all night.”

If Verlander wasn’t on the corners, he was conveniently off the corners.  Throughout his command was flawless and his location as well.  That the A’s had to wait nearly seven innings just to get a hit says it all.  Once all that’s digested, it’s nearly impossible to comprehend that the six-time All-Star had an off-season, struggling with his command and his velocity while his ERA hit nearly 5.00 from May through August.

All the problems ceased in September.  Verlander finished the season with a 2.27 ERA over his final six starts and his confidence soared.

“I’m pitching the way I’m supposed to,” Verlander said.  “I worked my butt off all year to try to get consistent and get myself where I needed to be.  I feel like it finally paid off at the end of the year.”

“He’s getting downhill now,” Leyland chimed in.  “He’s gotten mechanically back in sync, got all his pitches.”

And once Verlander steadied, the A’s presented themselves as Detroit’s first playoff opponent.  It was a match made in historical heaven.

The A’s struck out 57 times in the series, which set a new LDS record, breaking the record established by the Rangers in 2010 when they struck out 55 times against the Rays.   Verlander accounted for 21 of the 57, all at the Coliseum, the biggest enthusiasm and rally killer imaginable.

Give Verlander the ball in a series clincher?  That’s an obvious.  The 6’5” starter joined Sandy Koufax as the only starters to throw consecutive, 10 strikeout, shut out performances in the post-season.   Koufax—arguably the greatest pitcher ever—built his reputation in 1965 when he accomplished the feat by shutting down the Dodgers in Game 5, and then again in Game 7.

The A’s established a more dubious record for getting stopped cold in the ALDS for the second straight season.   Oakland’s 0-6 in the Divison series when it goes the full five games and that’s something they can’t do anything about for a long time, at least not before next October.

A’s, Tigers down to the wire in Oakland

By George Devine, Sr.

The A’s and Tigers have both undertaken the return trip to Oakland for the final and decisive game of the ALDS, after the series was tied by Detroit’s 8-6 win over the Athletics at Comerica Field on Tuesday. The fifth game will begin at 5:07 p.m. PDT, simultaneous with an event at neighboring Oracle Arena and a few hours before a BART strike deadline, as rush-hour traffic clogs the Nimitz Freeway alongside the venue. In other words, for A’s personnel and fans, it will be home, sweet home, and that may be just what Oakland needs to win.

Due to Thursday night’s concert at Oracle Arena, A’s fans who purchased tickets to Game 5 of the American League Division Series at O.co Coliseum are strongly encouraged to arrive early or take public transportation to the ballpark.
All lots are expected to fill very early as various parking spaces will be reserved for the concert at Oracle Arena. Parking will be $25 for cars until lots are full or 6 p.m., space permitting, when it will change to the concert price of $35. Direct parking will be in effect to maximize the use of available parking spaces.

Parking will open Thursday at noon. Stadium gates will be open at 3 p.m.

1989 World Series Most Valuable Player Dave Stewart will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday before the deciding game. Stewart was 21-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 36 starts with the A’s during their championship season in 1989 and was named an AL All-Star. It was the third of four consecutive seasons in which he won 20 games or more. He was 2-0 with a shutout and 1.69 ERA in two starts against the Giants in the 1989 World Series. In his career, Stewart was 168-129 with a 3.95 ERA in 16 Major League seasons with the Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies, A’s and Blue Jays. A native of Oakland, Calif., he finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young voting four times (1987-90), led the league in complete games and innings pitched twice (1988, 1990) and wins once (1987).

But the larger question is: who will be the starting pitchers for the Tigers and Athletics? In the visitors’ case, the decision was made early on: Justin Verlander, who pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 2, and won last year’s Game 5. His being chosen seemed a foregone conclusion once fellow starter Max Scherzer appeared in relief for two innings, earning the win in Tuesday’s Game 4. For the Athletics, two choices were considered: Bartolo Colon and Sonny Gray, until it was announced late Wednesday that Gray would be the starter.

Gray, who has come upon the Tigers as an unknown quantity, posted a 5-3 record and 2.67 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) during the regular season, pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2 last Saturday. He received a no-decision in Oakland’s 1-0 win over the Tigers, striking out nine batters, walking two and allowing only four hits.
The 24-year-old Nashville, Tenn. native was selected by the Athletics in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University.

Barton’s big blow opens floodgates against the Rangers

By Morris Phillips

Unlikely, and typical at the same time, the signature moment in the A’s 11-4 win over the Rangers Wednesday, of course, involved Daric Barton.

The Coliseum crowd’s reaction said it all as disbelieving cheers pervaded as Barton’s lofty drive approached the right center field wall.

Could the journeyman turn powerful, against Yu Darvish, one of baseball’s best pitchers? Barton’s major league career since 2010 had slowed to a crawl, much due to his inability to integrate extra-base pop into his otherwise solid, overall game. And the odds of Barton changing his portfolio against a top pitcher in one of the biggest moments of the season would have to be astronomical.

Given that backdrop, the home crowd chose to reserve judgment as Barton’s drive took flight. The A’s led 3-2 in a tense, series finale that would decide who would lead the AL West with 23 games remaining. Darvish had struggled to that point, allowing Brandon Moss’ two-run shot in the first inning and walking Albert Callaspo to lead off the sixth. The tall right hander had fussed with catcher A.J. Pierzynski earlier when his pitches started to miss their targets. Darvish’s 2-2 pitch to Barton offered an opening but surely not one that Barton would take advantage of.

“When we face a good pitcher, what were we going to do?” Brandon Moss would say after the game. “Were we going to be shut down, or were we going to do be able to score some runs? That’s been a question mark for us the last couple of years.”

But in recent weeks, the A’s have responded, beating Anibel Sanchez, Justin Verlander and David Price while taking wins leader Max Scherzer to the wire. Barton’s back and forth travels between Oakland and Sacramento removed him from much of the A’s transformation, but in a big spot against Darvish, he got his chance to impact his team’s fortunes in the biggest way.

Barton’s ball did clear the fence. And the A’s enjoyed a six-run sixth inning that blew the game open and tilted the tight divisional race towards Oakland. After winning 24 of 34—the best record in the majors over that span—Texas hasn’t been able to escape the A’s. What’s worse for the Rangers is the A’s have a kinder schedule down the stretch, with three games at Arlington standing as their only remaining games against a winning club.

Barton’s two-run shot gave the A’s 28 homers over the most previous 17 games further proof that Oakland has become the majors’ best at big swinging in the biggest moments. Rangers’ pitching allowed four homers on Wednesday showing that it wasn’t their day. But the A’s hit those Rangers’ pitches coming up big like Barton did in the sixth.

“It shows that we have a pretty good lineup on any given day,” Josh Donaldson said. “No matter who’s on the mound, we can put up some runs. This is a great time right now for our offense to get it going.”

Barton was with the A’s for just 67 games in 2011 and 46 games in 2012. During last season’s playoff push, Barton was relegated to the River Cats. After hitting .143 in May of this season, Barton was designated for assignment. In his seven-year career, Barton’s hit just 28 home runs and he seemed like the last guy manager Bob Melvin would feel comfortable with in a hot playoff race.

But since Josh Reddick went down, Barton has started at first base in seven of 10 games. His defense has been outstanding as always, but also his bat, hitting .320 in 25 at-bats.

On Thursday, the A’s welcome the Astros with a pitching matchup of Sonny Gray and Houston right hander Brad Peacock at 7:05pm.