OAKLAND – Josh Donaldson finally got off the schneid Sunday, notching his first base hit in more than a week.
But the true signs that the A’s might be emerging from their offensive slumber came elsewhere in a 10-5 victory over the New York Yankees.
They rediscovered their love for the long ball, as Derek Norris and Coco Crisp each hit three-run homers over the first two innings. They drove Yankees starter Vidal Nuno (1-3) from the game early, tagging him for eight hits in just three-plus innings.
And, looking very much like the team that’s dominated in run differential all season, they made this one a laugher early and captured the three-game series after dropping Friday’s opener.
Their lopsided victory stole some thunder from Derek Jeter’s final game at the Coliseum. The future Hall of Famer went 1 for 3 and hit a sacrifice fly in his final at-bat before being replaced by Brendan Ryan at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh.
The Yankees’ captain was showered with love all weekend from a sizeable contingent of New York fans that filled the Coliseum. In Sunday’s pregame ceremony, A’s manager Bob Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis – both former teammates of Jeter’s – presented him with a bottle of 2009 Cabernet, a trip to Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley and a check for $10,002 (tip of the cap to Jeter’s No. 2 jersey) made out to Jeter’s Turn 2 charitable foundation.
Once the game began, however, the script unfolded in favor of Melvin’s team.
Sunday’s game marked the 12th time the A’s scored in double figures, as they pushed their major league-leading run differential advantage to 132.
In the “Make Of It What You Will” department, the A’s also improved to an American League-best 9-2 on Sundays.
Starting pitching report
Jesse Chavez (6-4) was sharp even though he didn’t have to be. He gave up just five hits and one run over six innings, striking out four and walking none. Something about Chavez being on the mound brings out the best in the A’s bats. He entered the day with the seventh-highest run support in the A.L at 5.63 runs per game.
Ryan Cook relieved Chavez and gave up Carlos Beltran’s homer on the very first pitch of the seventh. He gave up two runs in the inning before giving way to Fernando Abad.
Then Jim Johnson heard it once again from the home crowd in the ninth. He entered with a 10-3 lead but served up Brett Gardner’s two-run homer. He allowed two more singles and a walk before Melvin went to Luke Gregerson. Johnson was booed as he walked off the field.
At the plate
The A’s entered the day with the third-most homers in the majors (77) but had hit just one over their past five games. But they put pressure on Nuno early as Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry led off with singles in the bottom of the first. After Yoenis Cespedes struck out, Norris launched a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall.
In the next inning, Kyle Blanks and Nick Punto singled to set the stage for Crisp, who also went deep to left to make it 6-0.
Donaldson, dropped from third to sixth in the batting order as he fights through an awful stretch, tapped a bouncer that mercifully made its way into right field for an RBI single in the fourth, snapping a career-long 0-for-33 drought. He grounded out in his three other at-bats and still doesn’t look comfortable in the batter’s box.
In the field
Nick Punto, drawing the start at second base, began a nice double play in the third. As he fielded Gardner’s grounder, base runner Kelly Johnson began retreating to first base. Rather than chase him, Punto immediately threw to first for the out, and Johnson was hung up in a rundown.
The Coliseum sold out for all three games of this series. Another turnout of 36,067.
This 10-game homestand continues as the Texas Rangers arrive for a three-game series. Monday – Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 1.90) vs. Colby Lewis (4-4, 5.74), 7:05 p.m. Tuesday – Tommy Milone (4-3, 3.47) vs. Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.11), 7:05 p.m. Wednesday – Sonny Gray (6-3, 2.93) vs. Nick Tepesch (2-2, 3.94), 12:35 p.m.