When James Shields was with the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of the 2012 season, he went nine innings, struck out 15 and took the loss. Tonight, a similar thing happened.
Shields, who kicked off his night by coasting through six innings, made two costly mistakes to Josh Donaldson and Adam Rosales in the seventh and eighth innings. Donaldson took a belt-high hanger in the seventh inning deep for a home run, and Rosales belted a pitch that was left up and in deep for a go-ahead home run in the eighth. As Rosales sprinted around the bases, the Oakland Coliseum celebrated a huge hit that led to a critical victory for the Oakland A’s.
The A’s are now 6.5 games behind the Texas Rangers, but they aren’t above .500. Oakland started 9-2 but lost 20 of 31 after that, which led to them falling behind in the NL West. Oakland’s offense is second in the league, but it didn’t show up much tonight. Luckily for the A’s, Jarrod Parker decided to turn in a great outing, as he went seven innings and gave up only one run.
Parker kept the ball down and pounded the strike zone all night, and while he didn’t earn the win, he boosted his confidence and lowered his ERA from 6.86 to 6.04. Sean Doolittle earned the win for the A’s, and Grant Balfour retired three batters in a row to end the game and pick up the save. Yoenis Cespedes made a nice catch in left field with no outs in the ninth, but Balfour took it from there. He blazed a fastball by Eric Hosmer to end the game, earning his seventh save of the year.
Now, the 21-22 A’s are one win away from reaching .500. The A’s can go home knowing that they don’t have to worry about Parker, and they can go home feeling good about Rosales and Donaldson’s big hits. Rosales doesn’t play much against right-handed hitters, but he got a chance and justified manager Bob Melvin’s decision with his towering home run.
The 20-18 Royals failed to support Shields, who is somehow 2-4 despite posting a spectacular 2.45 ERA. Now, the Royals are trying to stay above .500 and in the AL Central hunt, and they’ll try to boost their record by sending Ervin Santana to the mound tomorrow. Tommy Milone will take the ball for the A’s.