ANAHEIM -- Does it feel like BillyBall?
It doesn't look like BillyBall, not with all the doubles and home runs flying off the bats of the A's, but for the first time since Billy Martin had Oakland running and bunting as the manager of the club in 1981, Oakland has an eight-game April win streak.
Josh Donaldson cranked out a two-run homer and Chris Young added a two-run double as the A's scored four times in the sixth inning Thursday night to secure an 8-1 win for starter A.J. Griffin over the Angels.
"Streaks are not really something we think about," Donaldson said.
Well, there's something on tap that the A's have thought about. They have a three-game weekend series with the Detroit Tigers, the same team that bounced them out of the playoffs last year.
"There are a lot of guys here who were here last year and who want to play them again," Donaldson said. "It's early in the year, but we'd like to give a little payback.''
The third baseman had perhaps his best game of the year, and performance that only started with his tiebreaking two-run homer in the four-run sixth. He also kept a run from scoring with a nice defensive play in the third and started a double play to end the sixth. And in the ninth, he kept running hard and scored an insurance run when Howie Kendrick bobbled a throw from the outfield
"His was a huge at-bat in the sixth,'' manager Bob Melvin said of Donaldson, whose .231 batting average belies his contributions in the first 10 games of the season. "His defense was terrific, and he ran the bases great and got us an extra run. He's done everything for us this year except show a .350 batting average.''
Griffin was as close to the top of his game as the A's have seen him. He allowed five hits and one run in eight innings, matching the longest he's gone in any big league game. He went eight shutout innings against the Angels in Anaheim last September. This time, he was able to buy a night off for everyone in the bullpen except Evan Scribner, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words,'' Griffin, who is never lost for words, said. "That's what you want to do. It was a tight ballgame for a long time, but I never lost faith that the batters will get good at-bats.''
Griffin, who has two of the eight wins during the winning streak, matched up against one of the most feared lineups in the game and was completely in command. He had one rough patch in the fourth inning when the Angels reached him for two singles and a run-scoring double with one out, but he halted the damage right there and allowed just one base runner on a walk the rest of the way.
"That's a terrific job by A.J.,'' Donaldson said. "to go through that lineup like he did, three or four times, that's something. That's one of the better lineups in baseball.''
Speaking of the best lineups in baseball, there's nothing theoretical about putting the A's in that category. They hit .331 on this trip with 15 doubles and 13 homers while scoring 51 runs, an average of 8.5 runs per game.
For the eight-game streak as a whole, the A's are averaging .331 (97 for 293), and their 18 homers are the best total in baseball. They demolished the Houston pitching staff, which will happen, but also the Angels' staff, which was more of a surprise.
"We caught them when they were struggling,'' Melvin said of the 2-7 Angels. "The Angels have a heck of a team. Sometimes you catch them.''
The A's hadn't won eight games in a row in April since April 1981, when they won 11 consecutive games to start the season under Martin. The club has 10 or more hits in each of the eight games, which is something only the 2002 team had ever done.