A's bats erupt in drubbing of Rays
Cust smacks pair of two-run taters; Eveland dominates on hill
OAKLAND -- Cold bats were not present for Wednesday's series finale against Tampa Bay. Neither were baserunning blunders or wasted pitching efforts.
Upon hearing this, one might think the A's could not possibly be present at McAfee Coliseum. After all, these are the same miscues that led them to losses in nine of the past 11 games entering Wednesday's matchup.
Alas, the A's were present -- and so were their bats, to say the least. Oakland pounded out 11 hits, including four doubles and three home runs, to back Dana Eveland's first career complete-game outing for a 9-1 victory. With the win, the hard-hitting A's salvaged the final game against the Rays to avoid their second three-game series sweep of the season.
Loud music blared from the clubhouse immediately after the game in celebration of the much-needed win, and manager Bob Geren came through with his usual litany of positives. Yet unlike previous games, he didn't have to sugarcoat anything -- every word pretty much matched what was seen on the field.
"It was a big day all the way around," Geren said. "Great performance by Eveland, and we had a much-needed offensive outburst."
The outburst was highlighted by a big day at the plate from Jack Cust. He may have been the last player to arrive in the A's clubhouse before the game, but it's safe to say the outfielder didn't need much time for batting practice despite striking out in his first two at-bats. After coming in carrying a .185 batting average over his last eight games, he walked away with his sixth and seventh home runs and four RBIs.
"For the first couple at-bats, I wasn't picking [Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine] up as well," Cust said, "but I went in and watched video and saw there wasn't anything wrong with my swing."
When Cust came out in the fifth, he brought the count to 3-2 and fought Sonnanstine for eight pitches before sending one over the right-center-field wall to bring home Bobby Crosby, who had reached base on a single.
"After getting the count to 3-2, I had seen a lot of pitches from him," Cust said, "and then I finally got my pitch."
The dinger, which put the A's up 6-0, came after Jack Hannahan hit a home run of his own over the right-field wall.
"I knew we could hit home runs as soon as the weather started warming up," said Geren.
Cust's second blast came in the seventh with the A's leading, 7-0. Again, Crosby was on base, this time following his second double of the game and his 16th of the season. With a 2-1 count against reliever Jason Hammel, Cust drove the ball to left-center for his second homer to extend Oakland's lead to nine.
The nine-run support was the most Eveland has received through 10 starts. The lefty didn't need to rely on the offense, though, as he forgot about a rough pregame bullpen session and followed with a three-hit, one-run masterpiece -- his only mistake coming on a first-pitch fastball to Jonny Gomes in the eighth -- to improve to 4-3 on the season and 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA at home.
"I didn't feel that well in the 'pen," said Eveland, "but I did what I could to get my arm loose."
Akinori Iwamura led off the game with a base-hit grounder up the middle, but that would be one of only four baserunners allowed by Eveland the rest of the game.
"After that first hit, I thought, 'Oh great, here we go,'" Eveland said. "But after that, I had good command of my fastball, good movement on my two-seamer, and I was throwing all four pitches for strikes."
In the meantime, the A's scored in five straight innings for the first time since May 1 in a 15-8 win over the Angels. Aside from Cust's 2-for-4 day, Crosby collected three hits and two RBIs while Emil Brown grabbed two hits and an RBI.
"I love seeing these guys swing the bats," Eveland said. "I was trying to go out there and get quick outs to get the boys back in there swinging."
The pitcher did his job, working quickly and efficiently while throwing 95 pitches through nine innings in a game that ran just six minutes over two hours.
"I finally have fulfilled as deep as I can possibly go in a game," Eveland said. "I definitely wanted a shutout, but I'll take this."
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.