If the Oakland Athletics ' latest victory was further indication that their offense is heating up, they just might run away with the AL West title.
Hoping to build on an impressive comeback win, the A's look for a fourth consecutive victory Monday night against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Oakland (62-43) averaged 1.6 runs while splitting eight games from July 8-20, but since is putting up 5.0 per game while winning six of eight. The A's overcame an early five-run deficit to win 10-6 over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
"That's just Oakland A's baseball," catcher Derek Norris told the Athletics' official website. "You know there's going to be a time when both (hitting and pitching) are going to click, and that's going to be scary for teams when they come in to face Oakland.
"That's what makes us a very good ballclub."
Yoenis Cespedes had three hits with four RBIs as Oakland increased its division lead to a season-high six games over struggling Texas. Before breaking out, Cespedes was 2 for 15 with five strikeouts in his previous five games since he won the All-Star Home Run Derby."I've been working a lot, every single day, to try to get the swing that I got (Sunday)," said Cespedes, who still has not homered in 25 consecutive games.
Teammate Eric Sogard also had three hits, and is batting .407 (11 for 27) with six RBIs in his last eight contests after going hitless in his previous nine at-bats."We've had some guys struggling, and then someone else shows up ... and then someone else shows up," manager Bob Melvin said. "We still have some guys struggling, but we manage to either get just enough or keep adding on like (Sunday)."
Toronto (48-56) scored 24 runs while winning three of four from major league-worst Houston this weekend, with half coming in Friday's 12-6 victory. Colby Rasmus delivered the winning single in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win Sunday.
The Blue Jays entered that set in the midst of a seven-game skid.
"We have to put as many wins together as we can," Rasmus told the Blue Jays' official website. "Stay positive and get on this (10-game) West Coast trip and go out there and try to win some ballgames."
Rasmus is batting .365 with 14 RBIs in 23 games this month, and .357 (5 for 14) in his last three versus Oakland.
Teammate Edwin Encarnacion went 9 for 12 with eight RBIs in the Houston series. He's hit .391 (9 for 23) with two homers and five RBIs in his last six games against the A's.
However, Encarnacion and Rasmus are a combined 1 for 6 with three strikeouts against scheduled Oakland starter A.J. Griffin (9-7, 3.84 ERA).
The right-hander allowed four hits over 7 2-3 scoreless innings while going 1-0 against the Blue Jays last season, but left after 32 pitches with a strained shoulder versus Toronto on August 4.
Griffin gave up three runs on two more homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 win at Houston on Wednesday. He ranks among the major league leaders with 23 home runs allowed, but only six have come at home.
He'll be opposed by Esmil Rogers (3-4, 3.74), who has not earned a decision in his last three starts. Rogers allowed two runs despite yielding 10 hits in seven innings of an 8-3, 10-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
The right-hander pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings of relief versus Oakland last year.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|June 02, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow|
|June 01, 2013||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Left ankle sprain|
|July 25, 2013||John Jaso||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 20, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring cramp|
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Yoenis Cespedes knows just how dangerous Oakland's offense can be with everybody clicking. Usually, it starts with the Cuban slugger doing his part, as he puts it.
Cespedes homered and hit a two-run triple, Josh Reddick added a two-run double and had three RBIs, and the A's beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-4 on Monday night.
Jed Lowrie singled home a run and Reddick hit a sacrifice fly in Oakland's four-run first inning. Cespedes led off the eighth with his 16th home run, snapping a career-high 25-game homerless streak for the Home Run Derby champion.
"It's not about the homer. I've started to feel better and everything is going to be fine," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "When I'm hitting well, I feel like I'm contributing my grain of sand, doing my part. This team is pretty dangerous when everybody works together."
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, while Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie each hit solo shots against A.J. Griffin (10-7), who retired the first 13 batters of the game before Lind's one-out drive in the fifth.
Lawrie homered leading off the sixth, and Encarnacion connected for his 29th of the year four batters later.
The shaggy-haired Griffin, who went 7-1 last year as a rookie, gave up four runs and four hits, struck out five and walked two in seven innings to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions. He was through four perfect innings on 42 pitches.
The AL West-leading A's (63-43) won their fourth straight and seventh in nine to move a season-best 20 games over .500, tied for best record in the AL with Tampa Bay.
Oakland has matched its best record through 106 games since 1992.
"It means we've won a lot of games to this point. We're still in July," manager Bob Melvin said. "You keep trying to pile up the wins, add them up at the end and see where you're at."
They have some momentum after taking three of four from the division rival Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum, where Oakland has won 24 of its last 30 home games.
Cespedes hadn't homered since hitting two June 21 at Seattle. Monday's clout also was his first at home in 25 games since May 19.
"Cespedes is getting on fire," Griffin said. "He's too good not to put together one of these streaks. We're going to ride him all the way to the promised land."
Toronto, last in the AL East, had its six-game road winning streak against the AL West end.
Melvin shuffled his batting order with Eric Sogard in the No. 2 hole and Josh Donaldson dropping down to sixth as he tries to get back on track - and the A's certainly got ample production from top to bottom.
Seth Smith snapped an 0-for-30 funk with an RBI double in the third. Donaldson matched his career-high hitless stretch of 17 at-bats when he grounded out in the third, then he singled in the fifth to snap it.
Reddick hit a first-inning sacrifice fly, then doubled in two runs in the fifth. Stephen Vogt contributed an RBI single later that inning.
"It's a slow process for me," Reddick said. "I'm not going to turn it around overnight."
After a long first inning, Esmil Rogers (3-5) didn't make it out of the fifth in his first career start against the A's. He was tagged for a season-high eight runs - six earned - on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. But the right-hander didn't record his first out until the 24th pitch he threw, and needed 35 in all to get out of the first already in a 4-0 hole.
"He wasn't very good tonight," manager John Gibbons said. "This team makes you throw them strikes. We didn't play a very good game all the way around. It was less than an inspiring game. We fell behind early, tried to hang around and they blew it open."
NOTES: Encarnacion earned AL Player of the Week after batting .520 over seven games with two homers and eight RBIs. ... The Blue Jays dropped to 10-5 vs. the West, losing for only the second time in their last nine to the division. ... The clubs met for the first time this season. Minnesota is the only AL team Oakland is yet to face. "It's a little odd to be playing a team this late in the season for the first time," Melvin said. ... Blue Jays DH Adam Lind returned to the starting lineup after missing Sunday's finale at Houston with back discomfort. ... Former A's OF Rajai Davis wasn't in the lineup for Toronto a day after matching a franchise record with four stolen bases. "I got lucky," he joked.