Feb 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws during a workout at Papago Park. Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Oakland Athletics faced the Texas Rangers on Saturday, and with only one exception the pitching staff did a great job. Despite the game ending in a 2-2 draw, it gave some A’s players a chance to sink or swim. Here’s how the pitching played out.
The first two innings were pitched by the excellent Sonny Gray. With the past two starters not faring so well, the A’s were hoping to get at least one of their rotation starters to get a good outing in. Sonny Gray delivered. He didn’t do great, but he got out of two jams. His line was 2 IP with 2 Hits, 2 walks, and 2 K’s with no runs. He wasn’t the amazing ace quality Sonny we saw in the ALDS, but he was better than the other starters and for his first appearance of the year it was all you could ask of him. With more starts to warm him up, he may even take opening night from Jarrod Parker.
The third inning was given to Evan Scribner and he too did an amazing job. With Engel Beltre hitting a routine ground ball to second base, it should’ve been an out but a throwing error by Sogard allowed him to reach first. He was caught stealing second, and Scribner struck out the next two guys to give the A’s a 3 up 3 down inning.
In the fourth inning, Drew Pomeranz made his A’s debut and hit the first guy he saw. Michael Choice then grounded into a force out at second but he reached first. Pomeranz struck out the next guy but then gave up a single to Rougned Odor. with runners on 1st and 3rd, the Rangers were threatening yet again for third time in a row. Pomeranz would go on to pull through for Athletics and get a shutout inning by striking the next guy out.
Luke Gregerson would go on to debut for the A’s and started it off by striking out Jurickson Profar. He then gave up a single to Engel Beltre before striking out Alex Rios. With two K’s in his first inning of work so far, Gregerson received help from Billy Burns in the outfield in the form of an amazing throw to third base to tag Beltre out.
The outstanding A’s pitching kept going with Fernando Abad who went on to give the A’s another 1-2-3 inning, impressing the coaching staff with his work. It was the next inning that ruined the game.
Fernando Nieve came in to pitch the 7th, with the A’s still clinging to a 1-0 lead. He gave up a single, then he struck the next guy out. Things seemed under control. Then he gave up 2 doubles in the next two pitches and Rangers took a lead over the A’s 2-1. The score would have gone on to be 3-1 if it not for the impressive arm of Billy Burns throwing to home for the second out saving the A’s a run. The next guy flied out and the inning was over.
When the A’s gave the 8th inning to Deryk Hooker I was a little worried. He is a non roster invitee and is also the guy that gave up 4 runs in the 9th inning to Giants in that first Cactus League game. He came through however. After giving up a double to the first batter, he got the next batter to ground out and then got a little luck when Alex Castellanos, who hit the double, was caught running home. He then got the final out by strikeout.
The 9th inning was intense, because the A’s tied it in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Werner came in and did his job, getting the first two guys out. Jurickson Profar reached on an error by Addison Russel, the A’s top prospect, but Werner wouldn’t have any trouble striking Jared Hoying out for the final out.
Overall, the A’s did another amazing job pitching. Everybody that went on the mound gave a shutout inning with the exception of Fernando Nieve. This is encouraging to see the main pitchers on the roster do such a great job. While the offense wasn’t the best, the pitching kept this game even and saved the A’s from losing this one. Hopefully they can take this outing and carry that pitching momentum into tomorrow, where the A’s face the Angels. The overall impact of this performance is that the A’s pitching staff is looking good, and hopefully that’s translates into them also looking good in October.