Oakland, CA – The better they get the more fans come out to see it for themselves. An outstanding performance tonight from the Oakland A’s as their offense completely dominated the Tampa Bay Rays. Since the All-Star break the A’s have been hitting .322 and tonight every starter got at least one hit. They have turned things around in the second half, collectively the offense shinned in a 13-4 victory over the Rays.
“We got beat pretty badly before the break,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Losing four games in a row in Texas was not a good feeling. It’s about starting over, we are just trying to put everything in the past and literally start over.”
The defense was spectacular shutting down any attempts to score runs. Most memorable would probably be Scott Sizemore’s play on Kelly Shoppach’s ground ball. Sizemore saved a run top of the fourth by diving to make a back handed stop off Shoppach’s ball than threw to first for the third out. Hideki Matsui finished 3-for-5, he hit a three-run home run and doubled to put Oakland on the board first with a 1-0 lead.
His first five-RBI game since Sept 13, 2009 against the Orioles. Matsui is batting .421 (17 for 40) with two home runs and 12 RBI’s in 10 games since the All-Star break. Four of his eight home runs have put the A’s ahead but tonight the hits came to all.
“[Matsui] looked pretty good,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “The ball’s really hot off his bat right now. He’s doing what he used to do, he’ll drive the ball to the left-center, then the middle of the ballpark, then he can pull it like he did. “The ball’s coming off his bat really hot and that’s who he was in the past.”
James Shields tied a career-high by allowing 10 runs on 12 hits in four innings and recorded his ninth loss of the season. He entered the game with a 2.53 ERA but it ballooned to 3.03. The A’s saw success behind the right-handed pitcher’s bad night.
“[Shields] stays away a lot and throws a lot of change-ups out over the plate,” Ryan Sweeney said. ”I’m kind of a guy that doesn’t try to pull the ball a lot and takes the pitches where I get them. The one that I hit out was a change-up in and I just turned on it.”
Sweeney hit his first home run since May 4, 2010. He blasted a two-run homer in the fourth and replace David DeJesus in the starting lineup who go the night off. Ryan has made only two starts against a left-handed pitcher, went 3-for-3 tonight and snapped a 108-game drought.
“All it takes, really is a couple of games,” said Melvin. “Once a few guys start hitting and we score some runs, then it gets contagious and everybody gets involved. It was big night for Sweeney, he’s seen Shields before and has some experience against him.”
End of the fourth the A’s were up 8-0 and the hits continued. Weeks hit a triple RBI in the fifth, Matsui followed with a RBI single and the insurance run came in the sixth when Jemile’s sacrifice fly scored Sweeney. This is the first time Oakland had a game with at least two doubles, two triples and two home runs since Sept 4, 2009. A perfect night ended in the ninth when Tampa rallied back off the bullpen.
Matt Joyce blasted a two-run home run, followed by RBI’s from both Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon. They cut the lead with four runs but it wasn’t enough to make a difference in the hole that was created early on in the game. Brad Ziegler replaced Fautino De Los Santos in the ninth to strikeout the last batter to a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,640.
Written by: Malaika Bobino