Oh yeah, I had that one all the way. There was not a doubt in my mind that Dan Straily would march into the Ballpark in Arlington an shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball in the most potent offensive ballpark in the American League. I knew the A’s would be able to get on the board against Yu Darvish and hand him just his second loss of the season. The one part of the game I wasn’t sure of would be the ability of Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour to preserve a 1 run lead to deliver the victory.
Okay, no take all my statements from the previous paragraph and the exact opposite was what I expected to see.
I’ve been hard on Straily for much of the time he’s been with Oakland, and he’s earned that criticism with his inability to command the strike zone, and to keep opposing hitters in the ballpark. But last year when the possible acquisition came up of the likes of Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres, Straily’s name came up, and the Athletics balked at such an asking price. For much of the season this year as Straily got knocked around, questions began to arise as to exactly why the A’s weren’t willing to deal the young right hander. Tonight, he showed us all why the A’s wanted to keep him in the fold.
There wasn’t much in the way of activity, as you could expect in a 1-0 game (just the 13th such game in Arlington’s history). Straily was the story tonight. He allowed just 2 hits in 7 scoreless innings, he struck out 5, and walked none. He was relieved after just 88 pitches, he certainly could have gone further, but with a lockdown bullpen there was no need for Bob Melvin to risk it. Besides, Straily would be guaranteed to go into his next start versus the San Francisco Giants with a boatload of confidence. This was a glimpse of the Dan Straily we’ve all been waiting to see, I won’t proclaim that he has arrived just yet, but this was encouraging in a big way.
Yoenis Cespedes provided the game’s lone offense with a solo home run to dead center field in the top of the 3rd inning versus Yu Darvish. While his numbers may not bear it out, he is making an impact with the long ball. This was his team leading 9th home run of the season. The A’s had their chances to give themselves some breathing room, but they failed in those chances, leaving 11 men on base. They’ve left 26 runners on in the last two games, but they’ve come out on top in both games.
The A’s are 25-22, just 4.5 games behind the division leading Rangers, and have a chance to sweep them in Arlington, which undoubtedly is a rare feat. They’ll send Jarrod Parker (2-5, 6.04 ERA) to the mound against a former Athletic Ross Wolf who will be making his season debut for the Rangers in place of Nick Tepesch who was scratched due to a blister on his middle finger. Wolf appeared in 11 games for the A’s in 2010 and posted a 4.26 ERA in 12.2 innings of work. This is his first major league action since then. The A’s can give Wolf a rude welcome back to the Show tomorrow as they attempt to complete this sweep of their division rivals.