Things are rolling incredibly well for the A’s right now. That being the case, they won’t question why certain events unfold the way they do.
On Wednesday night, Oakland managed just one hit but parlayed it into a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. It marked the A’s fifth win in a row, their 11th in the past 12 games, and the first time the A’s won a regular season game while recording just one hit since at least 1914. They did win Game 4 of the 1974 American League Championship Series against Baltimore with just one hit.
The victory didn’t come easy, as the Rays had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the eighth, trailing by one run. Fernando Abad coaxed a 6-4-3 double play from Yunel Escobar, and the A’s moved to 5-0 on this nine-game road trip.
Tommy Milone (2-3) earned the victory and newly anointed closer Sean Doolittle nailed down his second save in as many nights.
What might Thursday’s series finale have in store? The A’s won’t waste time thinking about it. They’ll just savor a victory that hardly seemed in the making when you read the box score.
Starting pitching report
Tommy Milone worked his way out of a second-inning jam unscathed and wound up going 5 2/3 innings, getting charged with two runs on five hits. He held Tampa Bay scoreless through the first five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, the first three runners reached base, including James Loney on an RBI single that scored the Rays’ first run and made it 3-1. Milone then retired two batters and gave way to reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who surrendered Yunel Escobar’s run-scoring single that was charged to Milone.
It doesn’t go in the books as a “quality start” since Milone didn’t complete six innings, but in essence it was the third consecutive strong outing for the lefty.
Before the game, A’s manager Bob Melvin announced his bullpen plan following the news of Doolittle being named his closer. It involves Luke Gregerson handling the eighth inning, Dan Otero pitching the seventh and Fernando Abad being used where needed against tough lefties.
It was an important victory from the standpoint that the A’s nailed down a close game, and the bullpen needed to play a significant role. And though Otero wasn’t used after he threw two innings Wednesday, Rodriguez contributed 1 1/3 innings to get the ball to Gregerson for the eighth. Gregerson couldn’t finish the eighth –- Abad replaced him with runners on the corners -– but the A’s can still feel good that their succession of relievers got the job done.
At the plate
Talk about an unusual path to victory. Brandon Moss took Erik Bedard deep on an 0-2 pitch in the fourth. It marked the A’s only hit of the game. The A’s scored twice in the second on an error, and the Rays provided other chances as well. They issued seven walks to Oakland hitters. The A’s had two runners aboard with one out in the eighth, but 3-4 hitters Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes both went down swinging to end the threat.
In the field
The A’s led 2-0 after three innings without the benefit of a hit. That was due to the Ray’s erratic defense. Yoenis Cespedes reached base to lead off the second on a wild throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar. Tampa Bay starter Erik Bedard (2-2) was poised to escape a bases-loaded jam when he got Josh Reddick to hit a potential double-play grounder. But second baseman Sean Rodriguez threw the ball into left field, and it allowed Cespedes and Derek Norris to score to make it 2-0.
Milone, meanwhile, got some help behind him. Reddick made a nice running catch at the right-field wall to rob Rodriguez. Tampa Bay had runners at second and third with one out later in the inning when third baseman Josh Donaldson snared Logan Forsythe's liner and prevented at least one run from scoring.
Brandon Moss, starting in left field with Cespedes at DH, hauled in Ryan Hanigan’s drive to the warning track to end the fifth.
Sonny Gray (5-1, 2.10) is one of five pitchers in Oakland history to reach 10 career victories in 21 or fewer appearances. He’ll oppose Alex Cobb (1-1, 1.89) in Thursday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale.