OAKLAND -– Determining the A’s offensive hero Sunday was tough work, and it’s not like poring over the box score helped settle the decision.
Damage was done up and down the batting order as the A’s pounded the Baltimore Orioles 10-2 to claim the three-game series between American League division leaders.
It was the most runs the A’s scored since a 10-6 victory over Texas back on June 17.
They entered the afternoon averaging just 3.53 runs per game in July and hitting a league-worst .234 for the month.
Most impressive was they broke out against hard-throwing Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman (4-3), who baffled them over seven innings during a June 7 start at Camden Yards. This time the right-hander was tagged for five runs on nine hits, and he didn’t make it out of the fifth.
John Jaso, Josh Donaldson and Craig Gentry all drove in two runs. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit and one run with the exception of Jed Lowrie, who, funny enough, was Oakland’s hottest hitter before Sunday.
All in all, it was an encouraging way for the A’s to begin the second half. And, perhaps it gives them a psychological boost given that these two teams could wind up seeing each other again in a postseason series.
Starting pitching report
Sonny Gray hasn’t always benefited from great run support this season, but he got all the offense he could have hoped for in this one. That did nothing to take away from another excellent outing from the right-hander, who won his fifth decision in a row. Gray (11-3) held Baltimore to two hits and struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, and, pitching on six days’ rest because of the All-Star break, showed extremely sharp stuff.
Remember when a string of inconsistent starts seemed to signal trouble? Gray is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA over his past six outings, allowing a total of 10 earned runs in 40 1/3 innings over that span. He lowered his overall ERA to 2.72.
Eric O’Flaherty and Sean Doolittle enjoyed some low-stress work in covering the final 2 1/3 innings.
At the plate
A 15-hit attack featured lots of positives for the A’s, as most 15-hit attacks usually do. Stephen Vogt went 3-for-4 with a walk and is hitting like a man who still feels his roster status might be in question when Josh Reddick returns from the D.L. It’s tough to envision the catcher/first baseman/outfielder going anywhere.
Another player who could be a candidate for demotion, second baseman Eric Sogard, singled in his first two at-bats and brought home a run with a groundout. Cespedes and Donaldson each scored twice.
In the field
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is one of the American League’s best all-around players, but he made quite the mental gaffe in third. With runners on the corners, he hauled in Josh Donaldson’s fly ball and began running for the dugout -– unaware that it was only the second out. Yoenis Cespedes, watching it all unfold, came trotting home from third on the sacrifice fly on a play that could have been close had Jones been aware of the game situation and made a throw home.
If that wasn’t entertaining enough for the home fans, they got to watch Manny Machado unleash a wild throw to first that went for a two-base error and allowed Stephen Vogt to score in the bottom of the fifth.
The announced turnout was 30,124.
After a day off, the A’s open a three-game home series against the Houston Astros. Tuesday – Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.38) vs. Brett Oberholtzer (2-7, 4.50), 7:05 p.m. Wednesday – Jesse Chavez (7-6, 3.14) vs. Brad Peacock (3-6, 4.39), 7:05 p.m. Thursday – Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 3.27) vs. Scott Feldman (4-7, 4.30), 12:35 p.m.