Right from the start, we saw a determined and focused Gio Gonzalez today.
Throw in a wicked curve, and it was enough to earn the young southpaw his first victory of 2009.
Gonzalez pitched only one 1-2-3 inning (the first), but masterfully wiggled out of danger by coming up with a big strikeout time and time again. In the second inning, with runners at the corners and one out, he K'd Ben Francisco swinging, and Chris Giménez looking. After issuing a two-out walk (his only free pass of the day) to Jamey Carroll and allowing a run-scoring double off the bat of Grady Sizemore, he reared back to strike out Friday's hero Shin-Soo Choo to end the third. In the fifth he wrapped three K's around an Asdrubal Cabrera single, the second time in the game he struck out the side. He retired Choo on strikes leading off the sixth, his eighth of the game.
Meanwhile the A's offense gave Gio just enough runs to work with. RBI singles by Kurt Suzuki in the first and Matt Holliday in the fifth, and a sac fly by Adam Kennedy in the sixth staked Gonzalez to a 3-1 lead.
After Jhonny Peralta went deep to bring the Indians to within one run, Gonzalez' day ended on a pair of ground-outs, and he handed over a 3-2 lead to the pen to close it out.
And close it out they did, but not until after the A's had tacked on a couple of insurance runs (a double-play grounder by Bobby Crosby and a solo shot in the ninth by Orlando Cabrera). Cabrera was one of three A's to collect two hits on the day, Landon Powell and Rajai Davis being the other two, as the A's pounded out eleven hits overall.
Michael Wuertz came on in the seventh and pitched a perfect 1.2 innings, striking out three.
New All-Star Andrew Bailey relieved Wuertz in the eighth, and allowed only a two-out double in the ninth before Crosby snared a smash off the bat of Víctor Martínez, and walked to first base for the final out.
A nice win for Gio, a save for the All-Star, and a little momentum heading into Fenway tomorrow.