Vogt: 'That's the furthest hit ball I've ever hit in my life'
Eric Sogard delivered one of the A's season-high 22 hits on Wednesday night. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND – The hits kept coming in almost laughable proportions, and after what took place the night before, the A’s were in need of some comic relief.
They clobbered the Minnesota Twins 18-3 Wednesday night at Target Field, ridding themselves of the bitterness of Tuesday’s game, when they let an eighth-inning lead slip away and lost the series opener.
There was no late-game drama in this one. The A’s scored 10 runs in the fourth inning alone, opening the rally with seven straight hits and sending 13 batters to the plate total.
The blowout victory pushed the A’s lead in the American League West to three games over the Texas Rangers, who were swept at home by Pittsburgh in a three-game series. It represents Oakland’s biggest division lead since they were up 3 ½ on Texas on Aug. 3.
The A’s entered the night ranked fourth in the majors in home runs since the All-Star break (59). They added three more Wednesday and have now gone deep 48 times in their past 32 games.
Oakland has scored in double digits three times in the past 14 games. As has been the case in their breakout games, the A’s got contributions up and down the batting order Wednesday.
All nine starters recorded a hit, scored a run, and registered a RBI. Jed Lowrie had the biggest individual night with a two-run homer and four RBI .
The A’s also got great news as third baseman Josh Donaldson appeared to avoid a major injury when he was struck on the right hand by a pitch from Mike Pelfrey (5-12), who was charged with seven runs over three innings. Donaldson was in great pain after being hit but he stayed in the game.
Starting pitching report
The only Athletic who might have wanted the hit parade to end sooner was starting pitcher Sonny Gray (3-3), who had to sit through an extremely long delay in the fourth while his teammates kept scoring. The rookie kept his sharpness when he returned to the mound, and he threw five innings of two-run ball. Gray gave up four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. He exited after 91 pitches and probably would have stayed in longer if not for his stop-and-start outing.
Tommy Milone, Pedro Figueroa, Pat Neshek and Evan Scribner handled the final four innings to save the workload on the main horses in the bullpen.
At the plate
The A’s made for a lot of messy scorebooks in the top of the fourth, when they scored 10 runs, collected 10 hits and sent 13 men to the plate. Stephen Vogt went 2 for 2 in the inning, including a mammoth two-run homer, and scored twice.
How good was life for the A’s in the fourth? Coco Crisp hit what he thought was a foul pop-up. He turned his back and walked away from the plate, only to look back and see the bloop fall in fair territory for a single. Two batters later, Jed Lowrie smoked a liner that sent first-base umpire Bill Miller jumping for his life. Miller mistakingly ruled the ball foul even though it hit chalk. The umpires conferred and the call was reversed, with Lowrie being awarded what turned out to be a two-run double. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, not surprisingly, came out to argue and was ejected, saving him from having to watch the rest of this debacle in person.
Poor Miller got another one wrong in the fifth when he ruled Josh Reddick’s deep drive to right a homer even though it hit off the top of the wall. After a replay review, that call was also overturned and Reddick was relegated to a double. That was Reddick’s first at-bat since returning from the disabled list. He entered as a defensive replacement for Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the fourth.
Speaking of Cespedes, he showed a nice controlled swing in lashing out two opposite-field doubles that resulted in three RBI. That’s a great sign for the A’s from their left fielder, who entered the night hitting .400 (14 for 35) in September and now has seven multi-hit games this month.
In the field
First baseman Daric Barton made a diving stop of a sharp grounder off the bat of Chris Parmelee to get the out and end the second. The A’s led 1-0, and it seemed like it might be a big play at the time.
A.J. Griffin (13-9, 3.91) notched his 20th career victory in his last start, the 44th of his career. The only pitchers in Oakland history to reach 20 wins in fewer than their first 44 games are Tim Hudson (37 starts) and Vida Blue (39 games, 28 starts). Scott Diamond (5-10, 5.52) takes the hill for Minnesota in Thursday’s 10:10 a.m. series finale.