Oakland 8, Seattle 4 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 19-20
NOW! That's What I Call Offense! Excuse me if I get a little excited about an eight run game, but that figure surpasses the A's run total of their last five games combined and they haven't scored this many runs since April 25. They tied their season high for homers in a game (with a pathetic two) and for hits (with a respectable 15). The most surprising part of the offensive attack was that the A's managed to put eight runs without the benefit of a single walk. (The Onion AV Club has an interesting and surprisingly fair-minded retrospective on the NOW That's What I Call Music! franchise.)
Just as every A's hitter participated in their offensive slumber party last week, this breakout was also a team effort. Every hitter, except for DH Jake Fox, had a hit, and five A's had multi-hit games. Daric Barton led the way going 3 for 4 with a double and a triple, and Kouz and Adam Rosales went deep. The A's benefited from facing Ryan Rowland-Smith, who has been pretty terrible all season, but it was nice to see the A's rough up even a bad pitcher. They had done nothing against the mediocre Joe Saunders, and were dominated by average pitchers like Joel Pineiro and CJ Wilson.
I expected a better start from Gio Gonzalez given that he was facing the worse-than-the-A's Mariners offense. His lack of control hurt him as he walked four, and two of those base runners came around to score. He also only struck out four Mariners and induced only 7 grounders (compared to 12 flyballs + line drives).
The good news from the pitching side is that Bob Geren may be learning how to use his bullpen. The eighth inning started with Jerry Blevins facing the left-handed hitting Ichiro and the switch-hitting Figgins. Blevins gave up singles to both batters he faced and Geren brought in Brad Ziegler to face the right-handed hitting Gutierrez and Lopez. After retiring both these hitters, Geren brought in Craig Breslow to face Griffey. So after letting Ziggy get beat by lefties two times in the Rangers series, perhaps Geren learned his lesson of never allowing Ziegler to face a lefty in a crucial situation. Granted, even if Geren did learn this lesson, he still may need a tutor to help him determine what defines a crucial situation. When Griffey came to the plate the A's were up 8-4, there were two outs, and there was only one runner on. Fangraphs gave the A's a 97.7% chance of winning at that point, and that doesn't factor in the fact that Griffey can't hit anymore. Still, progress is progress.
You can probably discount the A's performance a bit because of their opponent, but this win counts too. The A's are going to have to take advantage when playing weaker teams if they want to keep pace with the Rangers (and maybe Angels). Today's game presents a bit more of a challenge, with King Felix taking the mound for the M's. Hopefully, the A's bats will stay awake for at least a few more games.