Yesterday’s Game Against the Twins: Trevor Cahill pitched well initially, but in the top of the 4th inning got into some trouble and gave up a 3-run homer to Joe Crede. Oh, no, not again, must have been going through the fans minds. Not another long losing streak, please? Thankfully, after that Cahill pitched 3 more scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Twins’ starter, Nick Blackburn, completely befuddled the A’s for the first 7 innings, allowing no one past 2nd base.
Jack Hannahan and Adam Kennedy Man Up: In the bottom of the 8th inning, Jack Hannahan, batting in the 9 hole, led off with a triple (has he finally solved the riddle of hitting?) He scored when Orlando Cabrera stroked a single to center field, making the score 3-1 Twins. Then Nick Blackburn left a pitch up in the middle of the strike zone and Adam Kennedy sent the gift over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Brad Ziegler, who had pitched the top of the 8th inning, worked a 3-up, 3-down 9th, keeping the game tied.
Things Start Going the A’s Way: In the bottom of the 9th, Jason Giambi led off with a walk, and was replaced by the speedy Chris Denorfia. Suzuki tried to bunt Denorfia to 2nd base but was unsuccessful in 2 attempts. Then Twins relief pitcher, Matt Guerrier, hit Suzuki, which accomplished the same result. Daric Barton laid down a nifty bunt in front of home plate and the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd. Now, there were 2 on and 1 out.
Rajai’s First Walk-Off Hit: Manager Bob Geren had told Rajai Davis in the dugout before he went out to the on-deck circle, ”You’re gonna win the game.” After Barton was thrown out at first after his great bunt, Raj stepped into the batters box. He dumped the first pitch he saw into right field for a walk-off single, scoring Denorfia and giving the A’s a 4-3 victory and a split of the series at 2 games apiece. That shut down the losing streak at 2 games.
The Battle of the Young Guns: Tonight the A’s move across the Bay to begin a 3-city interleague road trip. The pitching matchup for the first game is stellar: Tim Lincecum (5-1. 2.96 ERA, Opp. BA .235, WHIP 1.211) is going against Vin Mazzaro (2-0, 0.00 ERA, OBA .170, WHIP .923). For those of you who are not familiar with the WHIP statistic, it stands for Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched. It’s a truer measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness than ERA. In all those categories, Mazzaro has the better stats, but he’s only pitched 2 games in the Major Leagues. It should be fun to watch.
Everything is Clicking: Wow! 6 wins in a row! Everything appears to be working well: terrific starting pitching, great bullpen, the bats have heated up, and sterling plays in the field abound. This is exciting stuff and makes me want to go out to the Coliseum to see a game. I’ll have to wait until Tuesday.
Mazarro is Magic Again: Vin Mazarro pitched 7.1 shutout innings in today’s game against the Orioles. He looked like veteran pitcher on the bump today:
His fastball was in the mid-90′s, he painted the corners, and batters looked foolish. In short, he was awesome. After giving up a hit in the top of the 7th inning, Geren came out the mound and asked for the ball. As he walked into the dugout, all 17,208 fans were on their feet cheering wildly. “When I got off the field, I had goose bumps,” Mazarro said. “That was the longest walk off the field.” He now has pitched 13.2 innings of scoreless inning in his short major league career.
The Bats Cool Off: The A’s only managed 2 hits in the game today, but scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first on a hit, 4 walks, a hit batsman and a sacrifice. That was all they needed as Mazarro and the bullpen (Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey) kept the O’s scoreless. Hopefully, the guys will find their strokes and get the hits they need tomorrow.
The A’s Have a Closer: Even thought Manager Bob Geren won’t call him so, Andrew Bailey is the A’s closer. He throws wicked mid-90′s fastballs, paints the black, and hitters look silly either swinging wildly or slumping as they watch the ball cross the plate with their bat still on their shoulders. Andrew pitched his way onto the A’s at Spring Training, completely bypassed triple-A. By the way, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson also skipped triple-A. If Bailey continues to dominate, he could be named pitcher of the week before too long.
Yankees-Giants Game Today: No, it wasn’t an MLB Interleague game. It was the championship game of the San Ramon Double-A Little League. Our neighbors son, Jack Holt, plays for the winning Mighty Yankees, and his parents invited us to cheer him on. It was wonderful to experience the young end of the baseball spectrum, and see these boys demonstrate the nuances of the game, play their hearts out, and show moments of brilliance at the plate and in the field. So support your local little league. That’s where the future major leaguers will come from. It’s fun to watch.
Last night A’s fans were treated to something very special: Vin Mazarro made his major league debut for the A’s in Chicago.
The 22 year-old pitcher from Rutherford, New Jersey was called up yesterday to join the starting rotation, whose oldest member is a mere 25 years old. That would be Dallas Braden, whose total MLB experience consists of 35 starts over the last 3 seasons. He’s the veteran in the rotation! The next younger is Josh Outman at 24, and Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson are both 21 years old. This is the youngest rotation in all of major league baseball.
Mazarro didn’t disappoint. He struggled a bit in the first 2 innings, but made quality pitches when he needed to and was helped out by stellar defense, including his great wheel and pickoff of Scott Podsednik as the latter strayed off 2nd base in the 1st.
From the 3rd inning on, Vin got his nerves under control and pitched 4.1 innings of shutout ball with ease. Craig Breslow came in and got a double play to end the 7th inning and Brad Ziegler pitched the 8th and 9th innings. Neither gave up a run, preserving Mazarro’s 1st major league win, a 5-0 shutout of the White Sox.
Mazarro was also helped by two great catches in the outfield. Ryan Sweeney did a face plant into the padding in centerfield padding as he caught a long fly ball near the top of the wall, robbing Paul Konerko of extra bases. Matt Holliday made a nice shoe string catch as well.
Vin had a couple of dozen family members and friends from all over the country in the stands to cheer him on. They could be heard making lots of noise with every strike and out that Mazarro rang up. His dad hardly sat down for the 6+ innings his son pitched.
After he settled down, Mazarro’s pitches looked like those of a seasoned veteran, with great movement and velocity in the low to mid 90′s and he located his pitches very well. “He kept us off balance. He had good stuff,” said Scott Podsednik. ”You can see why their organization was high on him and brought him up and gave him a shot.”
When manager Bob Geren announced Mazarro’s call up a couple of days ago, he said, “The future is now!” Vin certainly put paid to Geren’s words. In short, Vin Mazarro showed us that he is the complete package, and I am sure that his success and poise on the mound, in what must have been a nerve-wracking pressure-packed situation, will rub off on the other young pitchers on the staff.
Last night was truly special, for Vin, the A’s and the fans. It was a glimpse into what is possible in the very near future, and gave the fans what they need most right now: legitimate hope. Maybe–keep your fingers crossed–it will translate into more butts in the seats at the Coliseum the rest of the season.
On that note, the A’s ran another hit promotion last night, taking a dollar off a plaza-level ticket for Saturday’s game against the Orioles. The A’s got 8 hits last night so a $24 dollar ticket will now cost $16 each. Go to the A’s website to order tickets and use the discount code “Hits” to get the reduced price. Oh, and the game starts at 6:00 pm because there’s a free Jordan Sparks concert immediately following the game. Such a deal!