(This story was originally published in 2005)
By Joe Roderick, Times staff writer
OAKLAND — The A’s had absolutely no empathy for the Giants at any moment of their 16-0 blood bath Sunday. They’ve been there before, and not too long ago, but certainly not to this magnitude.
“You don’t want to look back,” said right fielder Nick Swisher, who led the destruction with two home runs and four RBIs. “What’s done is done. You look to the future, and the future looks bright for us.”
It was the largest margin of victory in a shutout by the A’s in Oakland, and tied the franchise record. The win completed a three-game sweep and continued the A’s dramatic climb from the catacombs they once frequented.
On the other end of the spectrum, it was the largest margin of defeat in a shutout loss and matched the largest margin of defeat for the Giants since they moved to San Francisco. San Francisco Giants’ Brett Tomko adjusts his cap after yielding six runs to the Oakland Athletics, Sunday, June 26, 2005 in Oakland, Calif. Tomko took the loss but was hardly alone in his pitching woes as the A’s won, 16-0. (Photo by D. Ross Cameron)
The A’s rung up season highs in runs, hits (24), and their eight doubles tied an Oakland record. Every player in the original starting lineup had at least a hit and a run scored. Shortstop Bobby Crosby tied his career high with four hits, while Swisher, Jason Kendall, Mark Kotsay, Bobby Kielty and Marco Scutaro had three each.
Entering an off-day, the A’s have won eight of their last nine and 11 of 14, escaping the American League West cellar and moving to within five games of .500.
“I don’t know what to say,” said pitcher Rich Harden, who allowed one hit in seven innings. “It was amazing. Anybody who went up there couldn’t help but get a hit. Everything was falling in.”
Said Swisher, “It’s just one of those days. They don’t happen often but when they do you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Swisher certainly won’t forget his afternoon at the McAfee Coliseum. He homered from both sides of the plate, joining Ruben Sierra as the only Oakland players to pull it off in the same game. Sierra accomplished the feat on June 7, 1994.
“I did it last year (for Triple-A Sacramento),” Swisher said. “It was in Vegas. Of course, you could throw it out of that ballpark.”
The A’s had their 16 runs before the fifth inning was complete, and mercifully, manager Ken Macha began pulling some of his starters. But the onslaught was not without incident. Giants reliever Jason Christiansen, after allowing four straight hits in the fifth, threw a pitch at Swisher’s feet. Plate umpire Dale Scott issued a warning to both benches. A pitch later, Swisher hit his second homer.
“The guy’s a competitor,” Macha said. “He doesn’t want to stand out there and get his (butt) kicked. I thought it was handled professionally, by him and our hitter.”
Swisher didn’t make too much of a fuss over the matter during the at-bat and after the game.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” he said. “I don’t think he tried to throw at me. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. He told the ump he was not trying to throw at me. He was trying to throw a cutter and it slipped.”
Said Christiansen, “I have good enough control that if I want to hit someone, I’ll hit him in the back. I was trying to throw a fastball inside and move his feet. And I did that. Then he hit a home run on the next pitch. Touche.”
The A’s teed off on Brett Tomko, who allowed 10 hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Brandon Puffer and Christiansen didn’t fare better, giving up five runs apiece.
“Today they couldn’t swing and not get a hit,” Giants reliever Tyler Walker said. “I don’t think all their hits were line drives, but they are line drives in the box score. We’ve got to forget about it. It does no good to rehash it.”
It was obviously a memorable day for A’s hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who came under considerable criticism during the team’s hitting woes last month.
“I was confident these guys would come around,” he said. “We have too many good hitters, and when you play 162 games you’re eventually going to hit.”
Given a ridiculously comfortable cushion, about the only suspense surrounding Harden was when he’d allow his first hit. It finally came with one out in the fifth, when Deivi Cruz blooped a broken bat single to left. It would be the Giants’ only hit.
Harden, who was on a pitch count in his second start since returning from a strained left oblique muscle, was pulled after 76 pitches.
“Rich is one of those guys who has special stuff,” catcher Jason Kendall said. “There are only a handful of guys in the big leagues who have that.”
Kendall had three RBIs on three hits after going 20 straight games without driving in a run, the longest drought of his career.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I’m not one to read the newspapers.”