Swisher’s first week in the big leagues had just been capped by a rookie hazing. Crosby is long past those first-year rituals—but both rookies came through Saturday to stop the A’s five-game losing streak.
Oakland rallied from a four-run deficit in the final three innings to keep its AL West lead. It wouldn’t have happened without the rookies, who stepped up to fill the hero’s role occupied by Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and other veteran stars in Septembers past.
“We know we can’t play like this is our first year,” Crosby said. “If you’re in the lineup, you’ve got to contribute, and it felt great to do that today.”
With another bit of their customary late-season magic and Anaheim’s 13-6 loss to Chicago, the A’s moved two games up in the West.
Scott Hatteberg had a two-run double for the A’s, who appeared headed to their longest losing skid of the season after C.C. Sabathia held them scoreless through six innings. Travis Hafner hit a three-run homer in the seventh, staking Cleveland to a 4-0 lead.
“To say we needed that one would be an understatement,” manager Ken Macha said. “Being down and battling back like we did will hopefully be a big boost for us.”
Oakland put together a three-run rally in the seventh—and with one out in the eighth, Crosby homered to left off Howry (1-1). Five pitches later, Swisher connected with his second homer of the season, a drive to right.
“I was lucky to get a pitch to hit,” said Swisher, who reached base four times with a homer, a single and two walks. “It’s been awesome just to get an opportunity to play as much as I have. I’m still nervous all the time, but it’s been great.”
Aside from the genes they inherited from fathers who are former big-leaguers, Crosby and Swisher have very little in common.
Crosby, the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, has been a model of consistency while replacing Tejada.
Swisher made it to the majors just last week, and the brash outfielder immediately made an impression. He homered in his second big league game, and his spectacular diving catch Friday night immediately endeared him to Oakland fans.
“To say he’s confident would be an understatement,” Hatteberg said of Swisher. “That’s an asset in this game. He’s got as much as you need.”
Oakland is easily the majors’ best second-half team in the past five seasons, but the A’s were on their longest losing streak after an All-Star break since 2000—the first year of their four straight trips to the postseason.
Sabathia’s 6 2-3 strong innings were wasted by the Indians, whose three-game winning streak ended. Oakland beat Cleveland for just the second time in eight meetings this season.
“They just stepped up late, so give them credit,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.
Ricardo Rincon (1-0) got out of an eighth-inning jam for his first decision in 57 appearances this season.
Rich Harden allowed seven hits and got seven strikeouts for the A’s. The right-hander has lost just once in his last 14 starts, but he left trailing by four runs.
Sabathia, a native of nearby Vallejo, always pitches in front of dozens of friends and family members at the Coliseum, and they undoubtedly were pleased.
The left-hander issued six walks but avoided trouble until the seventh, when Swisher scored on Chavez’s bases-loaded groundout and Hatteberg followed with a two-run double.
“The seventh inning killed me—two seeing-eye singles, and Hatteberg hit a good pitch,” Sabathia said. “I was all over the place, but I made some good pitches when I had to. … It’s getting easier coming in here every time, though.”
Coco Crisp stole two bases and scored Cleveland’s first run on Matt Lawton’s single. … The A’s have been alone in first place in the AL West since Aug. 5, their longest such stretch since 1992. … A’s C Damian Miller made a throwing error in the first inning—his first error in 97 games and 1,014 chances since July 18 last year.