Tyson Ross continued to be a different pitcher at Angels Stadium as opposed to pretty much anywhere else in the Major Leagues. There doesn’t seem to be any logical explanation to Ross’s success in Los Angeles of Anaheim, but so far in his young career it has been the case. This was a game that did wonders to rid the A’s of the bitter taste of Justin Verlander’s Sunday afternoon dominance. The A’s lead all of baseball now with 5 shutouts to their credit, a major accomplishment even at this juncture, and to add insult to injury the shutout was the 8th time the Halos have been blanked, which also happens to be a MLB worst. This was about as clean a game as you can expect to see, everyone contributed, and nobody made any costly blunders.
TURNING POINT: The bottom of the 1st inning represented the first of two credible threats the Angels had to score against Tyson Ross. The A’s had scored in the top of the 1st on “The People’s Right Fielder” Josh Reddick‘s 9th home run of the year, and it was important for Ross to shut down the Angels in their half of the inning. Maicer Izturis singled with 1 out and stole 2nd with the much maligned Albert Pujols coming to the plate. An 8 pitch at bat ensued with Ross ultimately emerging victorious getting one of his 10 ground ball outs. Another lengthy battle occurred with Kendrys Morales, again ultimately won by Ross to squash the threat with RISP. Ross faced the minimum over the next 3 innings, looking comfortable as ever in Anaheim.
ON THE HILL: This was definitely a start Tyson needed to keep his confidence meter moving in the right direction. When it was all said and done, Ross tossed 6 shutout innings, gave up only 5 hits, walked just 1, and struck out 2. The story was the fact that he had the ground ball pitch working, 10 of his batters retired were on the ground, only 1 in the air. His control was in good shape, throwing 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes. Ross still has a long way to go to prove he’s a Major League caliber starter, but outings like this will help that process. Grant Balfour may still be upset about losing the closer job, but he didn’t let it affect his performance on the mound, he pitched a 1-2-3 7th innings with 1 strikeout. Jordan Norberto continued his impressive streak, sidestepping a couple singles and giving up nothing. Ryan Cook came in to close out the game and successfully continued his scoreless streak, allowing just a single basehit.
AT THE PLATE: Josh Reddick has continued to impress since coming to Oakland, extending his team lead in the HR department with his 1st inning solo shot. The guy is a player, someone everyone who follows the A’s, not just the A’s faithful in the right field bleachers should get behind. Seth Smith also continued his hot hitting with a pair of doubles and 2 RBI. Other notables in the lineup were Jemile Weeks and his 0-4 night dropping him back below .200, and also having the distinction of being the only A’s hitter who didn’t reach base, and Daric Barton had a typical Barton night, going 0-2 with 2 walks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The lineup for Monday night looked somewhat more Major League worthy, but still was missing the bats of Brandon Inge and Kila Ka’aihue. While Danny Haren has struggled a bit so far this year, he is still one of the better starting pitchers in baseball, so hanging 4 runs on him is still something to hang their collective hats on. Tomorrow’s game features former Angel Bartolo Colon (3-3, 3.96 ERA) taking on longtime A’s nemesis Ervin Santana (1-6, 5.09 ERA) at an odd start time of 4:05 PM. The A’s scored 4 runs against Santana on April 18 in Anaheim, they hope to be able to repeat that performance. Santana has had an odd season thus far, in 5 of his 7 starts so far in 2012 the Angels have been shutout. His 5.09 ERA though doesn’t necessarily indicate they’re all hard luck losses, but perhaps the pressure of zero run support has hurt his performance on the mound. The A’s will hope to continue that misfortune and sweep this 2 game series tomorrow.