The Oakland Athletics have been on quite a tear as of late, and they continued their hot streak Sunday afternoon as Jarrod Parker put the finishing touches on a sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a two-hit, seven strikeout performance to outduel Chris Sale in a 2-0 Oakland win.
Parker threw 105 pitches in 6.1 innings and walked only two, and his ERA is below five for the first time this season after a masterful performance on a sunny day at O.Co Coliseum.
Sale matched him for most of the game, though, showing why he’s one of the premier young arms in the game as he allowed four hits with five strikeouts and only one walk. But it was Parker that would come out on top in the pitcher’s duel, and Coco Crisp ignited two rallies for the A’s to provide the run support he’d need to earn his fourth win of the season.
It didn’t start off so encouraging, however. Parker has had a habit of getting off to a slow start in the opening inning this season before settling down for the rest of the game, and that trend continued today against the White Sox.
After getting a quick first out in the opening frame on a fly out to center field, Parker gave up a single on a line drive to right field to Alexei Ramirez. He then walked Conor Gillaspie to put two men on for Dayan Viciedo, who fouled off seven times before striking out in a 10-pitch at bat. Parker only needed four pitches to strike out Adam Dunn for the final out, and that would end the threat for the A’s.
That would be the best scoring opportunity of the game for Chicago, although Dunn was about six to eight inches away from hitting a solo homer to center field in the fourth. Fortunately for Oakland it fell just short and bounced off the wall, giving Dunn a double. Parker earned his fifth strikeout of the game in the next at-bat against Casper Wells to strand Dunn at second.
The A’s finally broke through against Sale in the sixth. Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk, and Jed Lowrie moved him to third on a great piece of hitting, going opposite field with a blooper to right for a single. After striking out Yoenis Cespedes, Sale battled with Josh Donaldson to no avail, and his streak of 28 innings without surrendering a run came to an end as the A’s third basemen earned a sacrifice fly on a drive to right field, giving the A’s a 1-0 lead.
Parker returned to earn the first out of the seventh inning before Bob Melvin went to Jerry Blevins in the bullpen. Blevins got Adam Dunn to fly out to Cespedes in left, and his job was done as Melvin then brought in right-hander Ryan Cook to face off against Wells. Cook promptly struck him out in three pitches to end the inning.
The A’s tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Crisp scored on a single to center by Lowrie. Crisp took off from first before the ball was out of the hand of Chicago’s Addison Reed, and the hit and run paid off when Lowrie smacked a drive to center that was bobbled by center fielder Jordan Danks, allowing Crisp to round third and cross home plate standing up to put Oakland up 2-0.
Grant Balfour came in to close out the ninth, and he’d earn his 13th save to seal the win for Oakland.
The A’s are heading to Milwaukee for a three-game series against the Brewers having won 14 of their last 16. Today was their seventh sweep of the year, and they’ll face the White Sox again on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago.