It was one of those outings where you figure Trevor Cahill should have given up more than just one run, the sort where he's in trouble often and just waiting for that hit or two that leads to a big inning for the other side. The thing to remember is when you're a ground ball pitcher and someone's on base you're usually only one double play away from heading back to the dugout unscathed with the odds a little more in your favor than usual. Such was the case tonight and Daric Barton provided the offense early (with a little help from the Rangers "defense") before the A's opened it up big time in the 7th, winning 9-1.
In Cahill's 5 2/3 innings tonight (he was on a pitch count) he was able to get three of them. Two were of the conventional on-the-ground variety while one was a nice catch and throw from center by Rajai Davis. His first two innings were three up, three down affairs but he got the double plays in each of the middle innings. He was also pretty efficient in throwing 51 of his 79 pitches for strikes (65%) along with inducing 11 ground ball outs compared to 4 by air.
Once again he also avoided giving up the longball, though David Murphy came very close on a run-scoring double that hit the top of the jagged edge in right-center. There was some luck on his side tonight as most of the 6 hits and 2 walks he gave up came in four innings with just 1 strikeout overall but I see it as him making some of his own by keeping the ball down, pitching to his strengths.
Things got a little interesting in the bottom of the 1st when Adam Kennedy decided he was going to have a very short night as he argued a bad called strike three enough for Eric Cooper to give him the thumb. Of note was Bob Geren taking about half an hour to get out of the dugout but while Kennedy was right to be upset he didn't look like he'd be done with it until he got sent to the showers. Mission accomplished, but we were forced to endure eight innings of Bobby Crosby.
In the bottom of the 2nd Barton stepped to the plate with two away and Jack Cust on first after a walk. In one of those plays you really just have to see to believe, he hit a sinking liner to right that Nelson Cruz charged and dove for. Instead of letting it fall and keeping it to a two-out, two-on situation the ball got under his glove. Cust motored around to score as Barton reached third on a triple, but Ian Kinsler's relay throw got past Ivan Rodriguez to the backstop and Barton raced home as well, beating Brandon McCarthy's errant toss from near the on-deck circle. Out of all that, just one error was charged to Kinsler, which was about right.
Barton would come through again with two down in the 4th, singling to plate Ryan Sweeney. Cahill gave a run back in the 6th on the Murphy double before Marlon Byrd hit a fly ball to center. Davis made the catch and Murphy raced to third only to be tagged out by Bobby Crosby. Craig Breslow finished the inning and worked an uneventful 7th, then the A's really put it out of reach.
Leading off, Eric Patterson turned on a fastball away (yes, you read it right) for a double to right. Geren played it safe by having Crosby sacrifice Patterson to third but it quickly got out of hand for Willie Eyre. Davis singled, plating Patterson. Sweeney singled as Davis went to third. Kurt Suzuki and Cust both pulled doubles down the line, Suzuki's scoring two while Cust's brought Suzuki around. Mark Ellis singled in Cust and Eyre's night was done. Barton hit another ball solidly but this time it was a sharp liner right to Hank Blalock at first for an inning-ending double play.
The A's got one more in the 8th on a Davis strikeout, though he reached first on a wild pitch as Patterson trotted home after singling and advancing to third on a couple passed balls. Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler wrapped up the win that put Cahill into double figures days after Brett Anderson got there. After Kurt Suzuki dropped a foul pop by Kinsler, Ziegler's next and final pitch was a soft liner right back to him that led to an easy throw to Barton at first. Game over. A's win again, their eighth in the last nine. Yay!
Oh yeah. The Rajai Watch is now at .318 after a couple more hits. He did strike out three times.