For the second straight start, Dan Straily showed that this game is not played on paper. Matchups be damned, Straily just went ahead and outpitched Madison Bumgarner, carrying the A's to a 4-1 victory over the Giants in the Bay Bridge opener. His line tonight was impressive: Six efficient innings, one run, and only one walk. This performance coming one start after a sterling seven shutout innings against Yu Darvish.
Buoyed by the 5-1 road trip and a sellout crowd welcoming them home, the A's lineup also showed no signs of fatigue playing a day home game after the road night game. They ground out at bats, drawing five walks off the normally economical Bumgarner and running up his pitch count to 115 in 6 2/3 innings.
Although Straily did leave a few balls up, the weakling Gnats lineup (36 home runs total, 25th in the majors) couldn't punish them. In addition, through the first three innings Bumgarner had a no-hitter going. However, following a Cespedes lead off walk in the bottom of the fourth, the Bringer of Rain was not to be denied. Josh Donaldson crushed a home run to straightaway center field giving the A's a 2-0 lead that they would not relinquish. That's how you break up a no-hitter.
The Giants' only run came in the top of the sixth inning. They scored in the most Giants way possible: walk, single, groundout, groundout. Blah. Still, a run's a run and the 2-1 score led to a noticeable intensity in the crowd.
Bumgarner was forced to exit with two on, two out in the bottom of the seventh, and Bruce Bochy sent in ROOGY George Kontos to face Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes laughed that such a scrub would be sent in to face him (well at least I like to think he did), and proceeded to crush a double to the wall in right-center and knock in a couple of insurance runs.
Knowing the A's had the untouchable Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour waiting in the wings, the right half of the Coliseum crowd started celebrating the rest of way. Doolittle (23 pitches, 19 strikes) continued his torrid season with two shutout innings and Balfour raged to victory.
I will admit to severely panicking about the A's starting rotation when the A's were coughing up 5.5 runs per game. However, I was wrong about it and I am incredibly happy that is the case. The long leash for Straily and Jarrod Parker is starting to pay off and the A's are reeling off some wins. 9 of their last 10 in fact.
Well done A's! You have made our beer colder, our BBQ's taste better, our day off more pleasant, and America a better country this Memorial Day.
Now do it again tomorrow, please! The new-look Parker takes the mound against Mike Kickham, who is making his major league debut. A's fans, let's bring the welcome party.