For six innings tonight, it looked for all the world that Jarrod Parker would end up the hard-luck loser in yet another 1-0 game, despite a brilliant start, as the A's offense was stymied by James Shields for most of the night. Racking up 9 strikeouts and only 6 hits against Shields in his complete game outing, the A's managed to get two hittable pitches, and would capitalize on both.
Jarrod Parker threw only 98 pitches, 60 of them strikes, as he kept the Royals off-balance all night, striking out 5 and allowing only 4 hits in his seven strong innings. The only run he allowed came on a bloop double by the just-called-up David Lough, who had two of the five total Royals hits, and also threw out Brandon Moss at second in his bid to open the fourth with a double. Parker would also help his own cause, inserting himself into a rundown and sacrificing his body to get outs.
The A's literally did not rally all night against Shields. The closest they came was a Donaldson single and a Norris walk in the second inning, but they wouldn't score their first run until the seventh. Josh Donaldson, leading off the seventh inning, ran the count to a favorable 3-1 and blasted a homerun to tie the game at one. Sean Doolittle replaced Parker in the eighth inning and with the help of a brilliant double-play by second-baseman Lowrie, shut down the Royals and set the stage for the A's second homerun.
Adam Rosales, leading off the eighth inning, absolutely rocketed a homerun of his own on a 1-1 pitch. This one needed no replay and no guessing; it was gone off the bat, and so was Rosales, sprinting around the bases with the eventual game-winner. Balfour mowed through the heart of the Royals' order (and on an interesting note, Butler can drop the F-bomb as loudly as Balfour himself; impressive!) and preserved the win for the A's. Jarrod Parker hasn't yet earned a win in his excellent starts, but I think everyone on the field, and here at home, is just happy the A's won, period.
The best thing about tonight's A's win is that the rest of the AL West lost; Texas, Anaheim, and Seattle all went down, and so did the Astros, in really the most painful way possible. Watch that clip at your own risk; it's horrifying in a Bad News Bears kind of way. So the A's pull themselves back into second place, close the gap to 6.5 games behind Texas, and are just one game under .500. They play the Royals again tomorrow; Milone vs. Santana. I'll be your host again; let's go for the series win!