On a night where an 8 run 2nd inning, and Seth Smith‘s quest for a cycle were back page news, Jarrod Parker took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Texas Rangers. Yes, those brutally talented Texas Rangers. If it weren’t for Parker’s high pitch count he might have been better equipped to finish it off, but the combination of walks and strikeouts finally caught up with him when Michael Young knocked a ground ball up the middle for the Rangers only hit against him. Bob Melvin had to have been secretly relieved once the no hit bid ended, as Parker’s pitch count was already north of 100 by that time. In other news, the A’s scored 12 runs! More on that in a moment. But Parker stole the show tonight.
TURNING POINT: I declared this game to be the most winnable against a fairly weak starting pitcher in Scott Feldman, the A’s managed to prove me right with a tremendous 8 run outburst in the bottom of the 2nd inning. They had posted 6 runs before a single out was recorded in the inning behind a Brandon Inge 3 run homer, Cliff Pennington‘s RBI double that snapped his 0-forever slump, a 2 run single by Jemile Weeks, an RBI single by Seth Smith, and another RBI in the form of a single off the bat of Brandon Inge. This was an indication that the offensive talent on this team is capable of hitting the ball, they just need to learn how to duplicate the strong at bats they had tonight.
ON THE HILL: No doubt about it, tonight was all about Jarrod Parker’s complete and utter dominance of the Rangers. A couple walks erased by double play balls made it mostly smooth sailing over the 8 shutout innings Parker ended up with. He has shown that he possesses all the talent in the world, if he can harness his command as I’ve pointed out all season, tonight has shown that the right hander has the potential to be a true ace in the big leagues. Jim Miller came in to mop up the 9th after Parker exited, he allowed a solo home run to Mike Napoli along with another hit and a walk, but closed down the Rangers without any further damage.
AT THE PLATE: A little hint of “Ingesanity” returned to Oakland tonight, after not making much noise since returning from the DL Brandon Inge connected on his 6th home run as well as an RBI single. His 4 RBI marked the 5th time he’s accomplished that feat this season. Nobody expects him to recapture that magic from a few weeks ago, but even brief glimpses of it can be a huge boost to this team. Seth Smith went 4-5, needing only a home run to complete the cycle, he was hitting the ball hard all night long, it was very encouraging to see him show some signs of life with the bat. Kila Ka’aihue connected for his 4th home run of the season against reliever Mark Lowe in the 5th inning, a bizarre shot that RF Nelson Cruz apparently did not see off the bat as he initially broke in before sheepishly jogging back towards the wall as the ball sailed over it. To those who saw the ball off the bat, it was never really in doubt. After being mired in a 0-29 free fall Cliff Pennington caught the hit bug and tallied a couple of his own, and he surely doesn’t care that one came against Rangers CF Craig Gentry in the 8th inning. Any time a position player pitches against your team, you know it’s a blowout, you just hope your team is on the right side of it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Tonight was a good night for A’s fans, in a time where there haven’t been too many things to be happy about, this was an all too welcome sight. The Texas Rangers have had a major strangle hold on the AL West for the last couple seasons, and a strangle hold on the A’s as well, so even a small statement like tonight’s impressive victory can be a building block for the A’s.
Speaking of building blocks, the MLB First Year Player Draft got underway tonight, the A’s had the 11th pick in the first round, as well as the 34th and 47th overall in the supplemental round. The A’s grabbed high school SS Addison Russell with the 11th pick, a powerful bat from Pace High School in Florida, SS Daniel Robertson with the 34th pick and 1B Matt Olson with the 47th pick. Those last two picks were compensation for losing Josh Willingham and David DeJesus last offseason. There was some strong belief as the draft picks moved towards the A’s that Stanford ace starter Mark Appel might fall into their laps as he fell down draft boards presumably due to signability issues, but the Pittsburgh Pirates snatched him up with the 8th pick.
Yoenis Cespedes gave the A’s fans a slight scare in when he left the game with an apparent patella issue in his left knee, but he’s expected to play tomorrow. Phew!
Travis Blackley tries to follow Jarrod Parker’s masterful performance after a nice outing of his own against the Twins. He comes in with no wins or losses on his record, and a 3.38 ERA against Derek Holland who has a 4-4 mark with a 5.11 ERA so far in 2012. Holland is a talented pitcher, so the A’s will need to continue some of the magic they brought to the park tonight to have a chance against him tomorrow.