The A’s have a formula for victory, and it finally resurfaced Tuesday night at the Coliseum.
They got a strong starting effort on the mound. They got the kind of big hit that’s been eluding them during a four-run fourth inning. They handed a lead over to their trusted bullpen and then added on a couple runs for good measure in the eighth.
The result was a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets that snapped their season-high five-game losing streak. It kept them a half-game behind the first –place Angels, but just as importantly, it lightened the burden that every player in the home whites must have been feeling after a dreadful road trip.
That it came against the scuffling Mets, who entered the night eight games under .500, didn’t mean a thing. The A’s are a team that needs an infusion of good vibes, and the opener of this two-game interleague series was a step in the right direction.
It’s no secret that leadoff man Coco Crisp needs to discover his batting stroke to help spark Oakland’s offense. So it’s important that it was Crisp who delivered the night’s biggest hit, a three-run triple off Dillon Gee in the fourth that snapped a 1-1 tie.
That was enough for lefty Scott Kazmir, who went six innings and gave up his only run on Travis d’Arnaud’s homer in the top of the fourth.
Starting pitching report
The Mets put two runners aboard in the first two innings against Kazmir (14-5), but the lefty held them off the board. The second inning was crucial, as singles by Eric Campbell and Ruben Tejada put runners on the corners with one out. Kazmir coaxed a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Anthony Recker to escape that jam, and he allowed just one run over six innings to join Detroit’s Max Scherzer as the only American League pitcher to reach 14 wins so far.
A’s relievers haven’t been asked to protect too many leads lately, so it was a good thing that they took a lead into the late innings and let setup man Luke Gregerson and closer Sean Doolittle do their thing. Gregerson delivered a scoreless eighth, and after Josh Reddick bumped the A’s lead to 6-2 with a two-run homer in the bottom half, Doolittle came on to strike out the side in the ninth. Eric O’Flaherty earned a pat on the back too for striking out Curtis Granderson to strand a runner at third in the top of the seventh, after a run off Ryan Cook cut the A’s lead to 4-2.
At the plate
The A’s didn’t immediately cash in against Dillon Gee (4-6), who has not visited the win column since July 9. They loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but Josh Donaldson took a called third strike on the outside corner for the second time in as many at-bats.
The breakthrough came in the fourth. With one out, Stephen Vogt singled and Derek Norris spanked a double to the left field corner. After Josh Reddick walked to load the bases, Alberto Callaspo tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Then Eric Sogard drew a walk to load the bases again. Crisp, who singled in his previous at-bat, took the first pitch for a ball and then drilled a liner down the right-field line that cleared the bases. The Mets fouled up the relay throw, but Crisp was thinking triple all the way anyway and motored into third, as a 1-1 game became a 4-1 A’s lead.
If it was good for manager Bob Melvin to see Crisp come through, it was equally good to see Derek Norris double and line a single to center. Both players endured a 2-for-23 road trip.
In the field
Callaspo made a nice diving stop on d’Arnaud’s grounder to his left in the sixth inning, a highlight of the A’s errorless defensive effort.
A crowd of 23,498 showed up to the only big league ballpark where the pitcher throws the ball from about the 50-yard line.
Interleague play has been good to Jeff Samardzija (3-2, 3.21) this season, as he’s yet to allow an earned run in two interleague starts (16 innings). He’ll oppose Zack Wheeler (8-8, 3.49) in Wednesday’s 12:35 p.m. matinee.