Sunday, July 22, 2012
Oakland gets an A grade in July
By Nate Jones and Kenton Wong
Kelley L Cox/US Presswire
Rookie Yoenis Cespedes (center) has been key for the A's, helping lead them to an MLB-best
14-2 record in July, including a four-game sweep over the New York Yankees.
The Oakland Athletics completed a four-game sweep over the New York Yankees on Sunday with a dramatic, walk-off, 5-4 victory. It was the team’s fifth straight victory, all of them coming by a one-run margin, and improved the team to an MLB-best 14-2 in July.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Oakland is the first team to win five straight games, all by a margin of one run, since the 1999 Miami Marlins. The A’s will try to finish the season with a better result than those Marlins, who ended up 64-98 and last in the N.L. East.
Many of the A’s wins this month have come in dramatic fashion. Coco Crisp’s walk-off single was the A’s sixth walk-off hit this month.
• July 3: Brandon Moss hits game-tying single in bottom of ninth against his former team, the Boston Red Sox. Coco Crisp ends it with a walk-off sac fly.
• July 6: Chris Carter hits a pinch-hit three-run walk-off homer in the 11th for a win over the Seattle Mariners.
• July 8: Josh Reddick’s walk-off double gives the A’s a 2-1, 13-inning win over the Mariners.
• July 18: Brandon Hicks’ first career home run is a walk-off to beat the Texas Rangers.
• July 20: Moss again plays hero with a walk-off single to beat the Yankees.
• July 22: Crisp gives Oakland a four-game sweep with a walk-off, 12th-inning victory over the Yankees.
The A’s sweeping the Yankees, previously owners of the base record in baseball, is also historically significant.
The last time the A’s swept the Yankees in a series of at least four games was in 1972. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, those teams had played 19 series of at least four games without a sweep.
The last time the A’s swept a home series of at least four games against the Yankees was in 1913, back when the A’s played in Shibe Park in Philadelphia. According to Elias, the A’s had hosted 57 straight series of at least four games against the Yankees between sweeps.
Pitching has been key for the Athletics, as they’ve gone a perfect 8-0 in one-run games in July. But even more central to the hot streak is the return of Yoenis Cespedes.
Despite going 0-5 in Sunday’s win, Cespedes is batting .500 in nine games since the All-Star Break, with four home runs and nine RBI. This season, Oakland is 39-24 with Cespedes in the lineup, opposed to 12-20 without him.
The A’s haven’t finished over .500 since their 2006 squad, a team that included Barry Zito, Dan Haren and Frank Thomas. This team is slightly more unknown, with Tommy Millone, Brandon McCarthy and Josh Reddick leading the way, but could become much more well-known come playoff time.