(OAKLAND) -- What a super Sunday it was for the Oakland Athletics today, as they swept the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game series for the first time since 1981 while also learning they had six players named to the American League All-Star team.
The A's 4-2 win over Toronto was special, because the team's new acquisition had a great debut. Jeff Samardzija pitched seven innings of one-run ball for Oakland, and four different hitters drove in a run for the A's—including newly-minted All-Star catcher Derek Norris.
Joining Norris on the AL All-Star roster are third baseman Josh Donaldson, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman Brandon Moss, starting pitcher Scott Kazmir and relief pitcher Sean Doolittle. Donaldson was voted into the starting lineup, the first Oakland player afforded that honor since Jason Giambi in 2000.
But maybe all of this should have been expected for the team with the best record in baseball (55-33).
Strangely, Samardzija was also originally named to the National League All-Star squad, but his trade to Oakland on Friday made him ineligible for the official honor. He may not care, however, as he leaves the last-place Chicago Cubs to join the best team in baseball.
And he was pretty good in his A's debut: he allowed only four hits and one walk in seven innings, as Oakland thoroughly dominated the Blue Jays this series. The A's outscored Toronto by a combined 14-4 in the four-game sweep, and the Blue Jays—who came into the series as the leading home-run hitting team in the majors—hit one home run in four games, and it came today in the ninth inning.
Oakland next hosts the San Francisco Giants for two games on Monday and Tuesday evenings at the O.co Coliseum before traveling across the bridge to play at AT&T Park on Wednesday and Thursday. The Giants are currently in second place in the NL West division.
The A's then close their first-half schedule next weekend with a three-game set in Seattle, where they will conveniently miss Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the rotation. Seattle trails Oakland in the AL West by seven games currently.
However, between the Samardzija trade and these six All-Star selections, Oakland is at the top of major-league baseball chatter right now. The A's will play the rest of the season with high expectations and a big target on their backs as the "favorites" to win it all.
And considering this is a veteran team that hasn't played a single rookie in 2014, those realities may sit just fine with this group of talented ball players in green and gold.