After taking two of three from the New York Yankees earlier this week, the Oakland Athletics defeated the Baltimore Orioles tonight in extra innings to win their third game in four on this road trip and their sixth of seven overall. The A's now have a 38-23 record and sit atop the American League West division by a comfortable six-game margin.
After losing a close game in New York on Thursday, the A's regrouped to come from behind again tonight in Baltimore. Oakland trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth inning, but Yoenis Cespedes doubled in Coco Crisp with the tying run before Stephen Vogt delivered a one-out, pinch-hit RBI single in the 11th inning for the game winner.
Sean Doolittle closed out the Orioles in the bottom of the inning for his eighth save of the season: the lefty has not given up a run in his last 16 appearances, spanning 17.1 innings. He has 29 strikeouts in that time period, against only a single base on balls, so it seems the A's have finally found a closer they can rely on for 2014.
And that will help as the bullpen has needed that anchor so that everyone else can settle into their roles based on preconceived expectations. With the closer role in flux so much earlier this season, that Oakland bullpen had been a minor disaster for a team with the best record in the American League.
The A's came from behind on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights in New York as well. On Tuesday, Oakland entered the eighth behind by a run, but Vogt pinch-hit (sound familiar?) and delivered an RBI double to tie the game, before the A's pushed three runs across in the 10th inning to beat the Yankees.
Wednesday, Oakland fell behind 4-0 early, but they battled back to tie the game in the sixth before taking the lead for good in the seventh on their way to a 7-4 victory. Cespedes hit two home runs in this one for the A's, and Josh Donaldson added a big fly as well.
Thursday, the Oakland lineup was stifled by Masahiro Tanaka, notching only one run in six innings against the Yankees' new ace. But the A's had their chances in the game overall, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving eight men stranded on base.
Still, taking two of three in New York is always a good thing, and Oakland continues to build its positive run-scoring differential this season: now at +121, the A's have twice the differential as the next best team in that statistical category, MLB-wide (San Francisco, +60).
Oakland has two more games in Baltimore this weekend before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Angels again. The A's completed a home sweep of the Angels just last Sunday, for the first time in ten seasons, as Oakland ripped Jered Weaver to earn the victory.