SEATTLE -- The Cinderella story of the 2012 Oakland Athletics continues to captivate. Fresh off getting swept by the Angels and losing their best pitcher in a freak accident, the A's began a seemingly daunting stretch in which 17 of their next 20 games were on the road. Worse, they had to face a surging Seattle team that boasts three of the hottest pitchers in baseball. It looked like the deck was stacked against the A's. Instead of complaining about the sinister hands they had been dealt, they went all in. They are playing with house money after all.Oakland swept aside the surging Mariners with relative ease. The 4-2 victory on Sunday was highlighted by the pitching of rookie Tommy Milone. With Brandon McCarthy out indefinitely, Milone, 25, is now the oldest pitcher in the starting rotation. He certainly looked like a crafty veteran on Sunday. Not only did he tie a career high with 10 strikeouts, he also tied the Oakland rookie record after earning his 12th win and didn't walk a batter, which tied another Oakland record extending his streak of 14 consecutive games allowing one walk or less. Milone seemed surprised to hear about what he had accomplished. "I didn't know that," he said. "I'm not really trying to break records, I'm just trying to go out there and throw quality games and keep the team in the game. If stuff like that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it's not something I'm striving for but it is cool if it does." Milone allowed two earned runs in six innings of work. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced and ended each inning he pitched with a strikeout. He was dealing."Are you impressed? 'Yeah,'" Gomes said of Milone. "But at the same time we kind of expect it. He's probably the most consistent pitcher we have."Gomes did a good job deflecting the credit, he is a veteran after all. His fifth inning three-run home run gave the A's the lead and ended up being the game-winning hit. Gomes has done a lot with a limited amount of playing time this season. He has 16 home runs in 83 games. Eight of his homers have come since the All-Star Break and 10 of them have come against lefties like Mariners' starting pitcher Jason Vargas. Yet, Gomes was slightly surprised to see his name in the starting lineup on Sunday. "Coming into today I was joking around with Bob Melvin about why I am even starting today," Gomes said. "He's the last lefty this year that has really given me the biggest headache." Melvin was rewarded for his faith in Gomes. It seems Melvin can do no wrong lately with his managerial maneuvering. Largely because of Gomes' blast, the A's scored four runs on just five hits in the series finale. "We feel like we don't need to string hits together to score runs like we did earlier in the season," Melvin said. "We can do it via the long ball, and do it in a hurry."Speaking of home runs, Josh Donaldson added a solo shot in the ninth inning to give the A's an insurance run. He has six home runs and 24 RBI since being recalled on August 20. The A's bullpen locked down the lead and secured the sweep. They pitched a combined four innings of one-hit shutout baseball. Grant Balfour secured his ninth save in as many chances since retaking the closer's role. Next up is a flight to Los Angeles where the Angels will be waiting. The A's have won three games in a row, but the Angels have won six straight after sweeping the Tigers this weekend. The four-game series between the division rivals could be a pivotal clash with playoff implications. "They did a really good job coming into our place and sweeping us, now we have momentum after this sweep," Milone said. "We'll go in there and battle and they're going to battle. It should be a good series."
A's Cinderella season keeps getting dreamier
September 10, 2012, 12:49 am