Hitting hasn’t exactly been a science for Brandon Moss, whose bat has become one of the Oakland Athletics’ most dangerous weapons since he returned to the American League last season.
Moss tied a career high with five RBIs, including his second homer in two games, and the A’s extended their winning streak to seven games with an 11-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
The seven-year veteran first baseman’s other five-RBI game was on Sept. 29 against Seattle, when he hit a game-ending, three-run homer in the 10th inning to give Oakland a 7-4 victory. It came during a season-ending six-game winning streak that propelled the A’s to their first AL West title since 2006.
”Obviously, I’ve hit some balls well,” said Moss, who came within a double of the cycle. ”But no matter what it might look like, I’ve just had some hits that have found holes and broken bats and roll-overs that have gone through. Sometimes baseball’s like that. There are times where I’ve felt like I couldn’t get out, and then end up going 0 for 10. Then sometimes I have no idea where to even stand in the box, and end up getting a few hits. So you’ve just got to go up there and battle, and that’s all I’m doing right now.”
Tommy Milone (2-0) threw 106 pitches over five innings, allowing four runs, seven hits and three walks while striking out five.
Joe Blanton (0-2) was charged with six runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings and did not record a strikeout in his second outing with his new club. The 32-year-old right-hander had made 118 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout since May 31, 2008, when he pitched six innings for the Athletics without one in an 8-4 loss at Texas.
”There were a couple of situations where I tried to put guys away,” Blanton said. ”I mean, I generally don’t try to strike guys out. I try to make the defense work for me. But with (John) Jaso up in the third with a runner at third and two strikes on him, I’m trying to put him away right there. But I ended up hanging a slider instead of throwing a quality pitch.”
The A’s were the only major league team Blanton had never faced. He made his first 118 career starts with them between 2005 and 2008, winning a career-high 16 games in 2007.
Moss hit a two-run triple in the third, then extended Oakland’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth with a two-out solo homer to right-center. It was the fourth allowed by Blanton, who gave up three in his season debut at Cincinnati after allowing a combined 29 home runs last season with the Phillies and Dodgers.
”I faced him a little bit back when he was with Boston, and I actually played with him for about a month in Philly,” Blanton said. ”He swings aggressive. He really attacks the ball and doesn’t get cheated. So with guys like that, you’ve really got to move the ball in, move back and forth, keep him off balance and don’t mix your speeds.”
Moss, who had career highs last season with 21 homers and 52 RBIs in just 84 games, got his fourth RBI on a bases-loaded walk during a five-run sixth. He capped his big night with a broken-bat single in the seventh after Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo dropped a two-out popup by Yoenis Cespedes, allowing Coco Crisp to advance from first to third.
The Angels cut Oakland’s margin to 5-4 in the fifth with a two-run single by Howie Kendrick after Milone struck out sluggers Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.
”It is important to get those shutdown innings, especially after we score. But the goal as a starter is just to keep the team in the game,” Milone said. ”Obviously, I don’t want to go out there and give up four runs every outing. But when we’re scoring a lot of runs like that, it makes it a little easier to throw the ball over the plate. And with the stuff I had tonight, I felt like I was able to keep battling.”
The A’s grabbed a 4-1 lead with three runs in the third after Eric Sogard led off with a single to right and continued to second on Hamilton’s error. Jaso, who hit a go-ahead, three-run homer as a pinch-hitter in Oakland’s series-opening 9-5 win on Tuesday night, singled home Sogard with the go-ahead run and Moss’ triple delivered two more.
”I felt good coming in, but mechanically I just got a little bit off,” Blanton said. ”My changeup is usually my go-to pitch, and tonight I was leaving it up in the zone and lost control of it a little bit. I couldn’t find it the whole game and I just tried to battle through it.”
The Angels got a run back in the bottom half when Albert Pujols singled, Hamilton doubled him to third and Trumbo followed with a run-scoring groundout.
Crisp opened the game with a single, stole second and scored on Jed Lowrie’s groundout. The Angels tied it in the bottom half on Hamilton’s sacrifice fly, which came after a single by Callaspo and a double by Pujols. The three-time NL MVP hit another double in the fifth for his 1,000th extra-base hit and finished the night 4 for 4.
This is only the second time in 22 years that the A’s have won their first five road games. They also did it in 2008.
NOTES: Oakland 2B Scott Sizemore has re-torn the ACL in his left knee and is out for the rest of the season after missing last year rehabbing from surgery on it. The injury occurred on Tuesday when he went out to short right field on bloop single by Mike Trout that fell between him and Chris Young. ”Unbelievable,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”It’s just awful. He’s one of those guys you really pull for, because he’s such a good guy and cares so much and wants to win. He’s coming off two difficult surgeries in the last several years, and to have a third one is devastating. We’re thinking about him, but I can’t imagine what’s going through his mind right now.” … Angels SS Erick Aybar was out of the lineup with a bruised left heel that forced him out of Tuesday’s game. … Crisp’s home run streak ended at four games, two shy of the A’s record set by Frank Thomas in 2006.