Jarrod Parker recognized early on that he didn’t have his best stuff. So, he decided to find another way to win the game for the A’s.
Parker relied on the strikeout to help him lumber through six innings, somehow managing a quality start and win in Oakland’s 9-3 win over the Rangers. Parker was in danger of being yanked in the second inning, but he quieted the Rangers offense for the next several innings.
Oakland supported him with runs, too. Stephen Drew continued to swing the bat well, compiling four hits, two RBI and a run. Josh Reddick got his first hit in 30 at-bats, and then he got his second in the next at-bat. Reddick also walked, which is a great sign for A’s fans. Oakland will need him to be at the top of his game if they want to go far in the playoffs.
Martin Perez, the Rangers starter, didn’t make it out of the first inning. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he left a lot of pitches over the plate. The A’s, who are known for their pitching and ability to squeak out wins in tight games, feasted on Perez. They hit multiple line drives, which led to multiple runs. Drew sparked the rally with a leadoff double, crushing a curveball that caught too much of the plate.
Parker struggled early, as the Rangers exasperated him by forcing him to throw an abundance of pitches. But he responded by shutting down their offense, as he invented ways to get hitters out on the fly. He seemed to gain his command in the end of the second inning, and he possessed it during the third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Texas couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm, and he found ways to get ahead of the count and force them to make feeble contact. He was effectively changing pitches and eye levels, and the Rangers seemed confused. They were swinging under some pitches and over other pitches, and they couldn’t hit him. He kept them off-balance, and no one made great contact late.
Sometimes, they didn’t make contact. His pitches moved a lot, which also seemed to confuse the Rangers. Putting away a tough lineup and keeping the bullpen fresh was key, and shutting down Josh Hamilton was, too. Parker threw Hamilton a steady diet of low change-ups out of the strike zone, and he couldn’t resist. Perhaps Hamilton was trying to do too much. He had a good reason to.
Hamilton let a ball hit up the middle by Moss get under him, and he chased it while two runs scored and Oakland took a 4-0 lead. Derek Norris hit a nice line drive on another poorly thrown pitch from Perez, and Hamilton took a bad angle on the ball. The ball, which carried a lot, went over his head, and Josh Donaldson scored. Hamilton was frustrated, but he couldn’t make up for it at the plate.
Evan Scribner and Jerry Blevins both pitched well, finishing out the game for the A’s and keeping Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook and others fresh. Scribner pitched last night, and he got the win, so he probably won’t be Oakland’s first choice to pitch tomorrow. But he will probably see an increase in playing time, due to his recent performance.
Scribner changed speeds effectively while shutting out the Rangers to get the final four outs of the game. He made Mike Napoli look like a complete fool in the ninth, throwing a breaking ball that took an eternity to get to home plate. Napoli was expecting a fastball, and he couldn’t make the adjustment. The pitch dipped into the strike zone, recording the second out of the ninth.
Hamilton and Ian Kinsler walked, but Scribner battled. Kinsler kept expecting the breaking ball with the count at 3-2, and he fouled off pitches to the backstop or the other way (most of the time). He clearly couldn’t figure Scribner out, but he was lucky enough to walk. Elvis Andrus was up next, and Scribner made him look like a fool, too.
Andrus expected a fastball and a breaking ball, and that’s what Scribner gave him. However, he threw them in the wrong order, and both scraped the corner for strikes. Andrus was too aggressive on the 0-2 pitch, swinging at a breaking ball in the dirt to end the game. Scribner sharpened his case for making Oakland’s playoff roster, and his 2.90 ERA will certainly help.
Tomorrow, Travis Blackley tries to sharpen his case for making Oakland’s playoff roster when he takes on Matt Harrison in the series finale. Drew, who also reached out at an outside pitch to hit a two-run single, looks to lead the A’s to their third consecutive win.
Oakland is now just three games back of Texas, and they lead the Angels by 2.5 games for the final Wild Card spot. They trail the Orioles by a half-game for the first Wild Card spot.