There's no question that the Oakland Athletics are invested in winning a World Series Championship this season. The A's mortgaged much of their future to bring in a pair of aces, Jeff Samardzjia and Jon Lester, mid-season.
So Oakland fans are enjoying the newfound stardom while they can. And the latest, and biggest, acquisition began paying dividends immediately with a Saturday afternoon win.
Jon Lester made his first start in an Oakland uniform and notched the win with yet another quality start added to his resume. The former Boston ace limited the Royals to three runs in 6.2 innings, striking out three and surrendering nine hits. The discrepancy between hits and strikeouts was a little non-Lester like, but the perseverance to give his team a chance to win the game was nothing new. Lester made his ninth straight start allowing less than three runs. But his streak of starts giving up no more than two came to an end. Before Saturday, Lester had not allowed more than two runs in a single start since June 7th against the Detroit Tigers. He's thrown a quality start 11 times in his last 12 times out.
But Lester was in line for the loss for most of the afternoon. Kansas City's Jason Vargas had the A's baffled for four innings before the league's highest-scoring offense took care of business with an eight spot in the fifth. The "Moneyball" A's did it with five RBI singles and a bases loaded walk. Jonny Gomes, who also came over from Boston in the Lester deal, capped the inning with a bases loaded single that ended up scoring three after an error in left field by Alex Gordon.
After trading away its biggest power threat in Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland's offense will certainly be under the microscope for the rest of the season. And, despite being shutout for eight innings in Saturday's win, the offense passed the test. That said, taking away the eight-run fifth inning on Saturday, Oakland has not scored in the other 17 innings since trading away the reigning two-time Home Run Derby champion.
Not to be lost in Lester's and Gomes' performances, Sam Fuld made one of the throws of the year in center field to catch Alex Gordon at the plate trying to tag up in the fourth inning. The throw from medium range center field was a strike to catcher Derek Norris, who applied the tag to the speedy Gordon. Fuld, who was acquired from the Twins for Tommy Milone to bolster Oakland's outfield defense, continues to make Billy Beane look like a genius.