Game 9 wrapup: Donaldson’s subtle game; Milone’s shutdown problems; big offense from little things

Josh Donaldson had a couple of hits and drove in a run Wednesday in the A’s 11-5 win over the Angels.

He’s hitting just .200 and is still looking for his first home run.

    There’s nothing of major import in the stats lines where Donaldson is concerned, but manager Bob Melvin says he’s made it a point to go to Donaldson almost daily.

Why? For one, he’s played terrific defense, all the more so considering that a year ago he was a catcher. And after the first couple of games of the season, Donaldson has been swinging the bat well without much to show for it.

“Josh has been a big factor in what we’ve done so far,’’ Melvin said. “He’s made big play after big play at third base. He’s had some tough luck hitting, but he’s kept his focus.’’

Donaldson may be coming into his own a bit this week. He had two singles in the series opener with the Angels Tuesday, then came back with a single and a double Wednesday.

“The manager knows what he’s doing for this team,’’ Melvin said. “And he knows I know. I tell him every day.’’



Lefty starter Tommy Milone didn’t have anything close to the kind of game he was hoping for Wednesday.

Except for the part where he wound up as the winning pitcher.

The A’s scored in the first, third and fifth innings. Milone prides himself on shutdown innings – shutting out the other side after your side has scored – but on Wednesday, the Angels scored on him in the first, third and fifth.

That led to an early departure, Milone turning over a 5-4 lead that the A’s offense expanded into an easy victory by the time the game was over, 3 hours and 47 minutes after it started.

“You always want to have those shutdown innings,’’ Milone said. “It’s important to get them. But the biggest goal of a starting pitcher is to keep the team in the game, and I was able to do that.

“And when the team is scoring runs like we have been, they make it easy for you to keep them in the game.’’



The Oakland offense couldn’t be any different this year than it was 12 months ago.

Back then the A’s were scrambling for runs, stealing bases a lot, playing for one run at a time. The home run was almost a foreign concept.

No more. The A’s came into Wednesday tied with the Yankees with 15 homers each, and while the Yankees were rained out, Brandon Moss hit the 16th for Oakland.

That’s resulted in big innings – lots of them. The a’s have scored three or more runs seven times in the first five games of the road trip that comes to an end Thursday night in Anaheim.

Oakland also has scored 43 runs in the first 45 innings of the road trip. Last year it took the season’s first 14 games to score 45 runs.

“When you have power like we have now and you have people who will work the count and get on base, you’re going to be the kind of team that can score in bunches,’’ Melvin said.

But it’s not just scoring in bunches. In the first three innings Wednesday the A’s were good at giving themselves up to move runners up a base. John Jaso did it in the first. Coco Crisp did it in the third and Donaldson did it in the fourth, although the A’s wound up not scoring in the fourth.

“We worked on that a lot in spring training,’’ Melvin said. “We know you can’t always rely on power. But we’ve got guys who are willing to give themselves up to move runs up. That’s big.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.