A's stay hot with huge inning, shutout of Blue Jays

A's stay hot with huge inning, shutout of Blue Jays

A's stay hot with huge inning, shutout of Blue Jays
TORONTO -- The streaking A's can really do no wrong these days -- between the lines, at least.

Outside of them, it was a gutsy move on A.J. Griffin's part, boarding the team bus to the ballpark on Wednesday without a collared shirt on his back. Rather, the righty arrived at Rogers Centre four hours before his scheduled start wearing a casual crimson-colored T-shirt -- a no-no in the organization.

So following his club's 16-0 drubbing of the Blue Jays, marking the A's seventh straight victory and 16th in 18 July contests, Griffin approached reporters with a frozen version of the same shirt in hand.

"He might want to invest in a collared shirt," the veteran Jonny Gomes advised nearby.

Gomes may or may not have been in involved in the freezing process, which he incidentally knew much about.

"It can't be extremely wet, just damp," he said. "Put it in the freezer -- any given freezer -- and try to keep it under 32 degrees. It takes about an hour."

The recipe worked perfectly. But doesn't everything the A's do these days?

"It's us sticking to our plan," Gomes said. "I think we're winning games now the way we were losing games in the first half -- teams taking advantages of our mistakes, teams adding on in late innings, and their starting pitcher going deep and then going to their closer. I think the tables have turned."

The A's are doing all of the above, and since their last notable stretch of losses, which amounted to nine straight May 22-June 1, they're 31-14. Only the Yankees, at 31-16, have as many wins in that span.

It's been more than a week since Oakland lost a game, which is nearly an eternity in baseball circles. And, suddenly, the club is nine games over .500 -- it was nine games under .500 on June 10 -- as its improbable story continues to grow by the day.

The newest chapter was essentially written in the second, when Oakland sent 12 men to the plate and scored eight runs, seven of which were charged to Ricky Romero. Having already given up an RBI double to Yoenis Cespedes in the first, the Blue Jays lefty was ultimately tagged with eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings, after entering the contest 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA over his last six starts against the A's.

"You're lucky when you're able to get the kind of at-bats we did off a quality pitcher like that and get him out of the game early," manager Bob Melvin said. "That's a quality pitcher in Romero. He's given us a tough time in the past. We have some confidence right now, a lot more confidence offensively. That's been kind of building. I mean, these games are not typical games, where you score that many runs. You get maybe one or two of these a year."

For as brief as his appearance was, Romero managed to walk six in his time on the mound, including two of the first three he faced in the second. Three straight hits from Coco Crisp, Gomes and Josh Reddick amounted to two runs, before an intentional walk to Cespedes loaded the bases. Romero met his final fate in Chris Carter, who walked in a run, to bring in righty reliever Chad Beck.

The A's treated him just the same, though, scoring four more runs. By night's end, every starter had scored a run, with eight of the nine collecting at least one RBI. Among that group was Reddick, who provided even more excitement in the bottom half of the second with a Spiderman-like catch to rob Travis Snider of an extra-base hit.

Reddick scaled the right-field wall and hung on for the remarkable grab that preserved an eventual shutout effort by Oakland's untouchable pitching staff. Griffin led the way with six strong innings, allowing just three hits along the way, while fanning a career-high nine with two walks.

"He did everything as if it was a close game, and that's what you want to see," Melvin said.

Meanwhile, the A's didn't slow down at the plate, doubling their run total from the second by the time the game came to an end. Crisp, who entered the contest with three home runs, tallied two on the night, with Carter also collecting a home run. And Cespedes, having already contributed in the first two innings, did so again in the eighth by way of another RBI double, as he upped his post-break average to .477 (21-for-44).

"I'm speechless, the support I got today -- that's just amazing," Griffin said. "That's those guys going out there and continuing with the process, working the counts and getting it done. That was impressive."

The 16-run decision tied the A's franchise record -- accomplished five times -- for biggest shutout win, the last one coming June 26, 2005, against the Giants. It was also their largest margin of victory since that day.

"We're still riding that wave of good offense," Reddick said.

"That's how we're going to win," Gomes said. "I don't think we really have anyone on this team where we can jump on their back and they can take us."

Rest assured, though, that Griffin's back will be properly clothed come Thursday, when the A's will seek their second straight sweep.

"I should have known better," he said smiling.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.