After a shaky start to the season, Jarrod Parker finally turned in a quality start. And, he couldn’t have picked a worse time to do so.
Parker pitched 6 1/3 strong innings, but the one run he gave up proved to be the difference in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 win over Oakland. Parker and opposing pitcher Jeremy Hellickson both kept the ball down in the zone, but Parker didn’t do so for one pitch. That one pitch was hit into the right-field seats by Matt Joyce, and it was the only run scored all game.
The hit came in the second inning when Parker left a pitch belt-high and inside. Joyce turned on it, crushing a deep line drive into the seats. Parker was able to settle down, as he struck out five and surrendered just six hits. Oakland’s offense didn’t help Parker, though, as the offense mustered a mere three hits. Hellickson kept the ball down, struck out six and earned his first win with a masterful performance.
Fernando Rodney also turned in a masterful performance. The record-setting closer had to work out of a slight jam when Ryan Roberts dropped a shallow pop-up, but he did the trick. Rodney struck out John Jaso with a beautiful pitch on the outside corner, and he forced a weak grounder to second to end the game. Tampa Bay’s pitching dominated again as the Rays continued to play their baseball. Tampa Bay doesn’t score much, but they get the job done.
Joel Peralta pitched in the eighth, and he needed just 13 pitches to get through three batters. Ryan Cook pitched 1 2/3 innings for the A’s, and he and Parker were the only A’s pitchers in this game. Both did very well, but neither were good enough. Because of Oakland’s offensive woes and Tampa Bay’s pitching gem, the Rays have the series locked up and have set the A’s back to 12-6.
Jose Molina led both teams with two hits, and Joyce, Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist also recorded hits. Seth Smith, Brandon Moss and Eric Sogard reached with hits for the A’s, and no one finished with a multi-hit game. Jaso struck out three times, and Josh Donaldson struck out twice.
Can the A’s, who have averaged 1.5 runs per game against Tampa Bay’s stout pitching, respond on Sunday? It’s going to take a better offensive effort from the A’s, but the good news is that the A’s can’t be much worse. They let an opportunity slip away today, and all they can do is get ready to avoid a sweep on Sunday.