If you look at the boxscore of today's game, Evel Knieveland and Snake Hochevar Canyon don't appear to have pitched completely different ballgames:
Eveland: 5.2 IP, 95 pitches/53 strikes, 4 BB, 3 K
Hochevar: 4.2 IP, 98 pitches/58 strikes, 3 BB, 4 K
Eveland, however, only gave up 3 hits (and the A's bullpen none) while Hochevar surrendered 9 safeties. And therein is a key difference between the two pitches -- and the two respective teams' offenses.
Eveland was, as they say, "effectively wild" today,giving the Royals nothing to hit. When he did walk batters, he generally minimized the damage. Hochevar, on the other hand, was mostly in and around the zone, despite the 3 walks -- walks which the A's batters earned
by taking a lot of close pitches (Cust in particular) to get to the 3-ball counts. And Hochevar was unable to put the ball on the edges of the zone when he did have to come in -- and the A's made him pay for it, especially in the 4th, when they strung together 2-out hits and send 10 men to the plate, scoring 5 runs.
The bullpen and the defense (especially Ellis, who tracked down a couple of swirling popups) deserve some credit as well, but this victory was built on the foundation of Eveland's lively, smart pitching and the A's consistent, patient hitting. Heck even Crosby looked good today, with a good approach every PA.
So, a sweep of the up-and-coming Royals, coupled with a clutch Angels loss
, puts the A's back into a tie for first in the Division. Billy has a day off tomorrow to work on re-signing Frank Thomas
. Twins in for a three-game set on Tuesday.