As much as Dan Straily likely appreciated Oakland's six runs Thursday afternoon, he would have happily settled for two. The 25-year-old right-hander cruised through seven innings of three-hit ball today en route to a 6-1 A's win, a game that saw Oakland briefly trail for the first time in the series after Brian Dozier's solo home run in the first inning.
The 1-0 deficit disappeared quickly, though, when the red-hot Alberto Callaspo scored on a Daric Barton single in the top of the 2nd inning, knotting the score at 1. Callaspo had reached on a ground-ball single to right, and he added another base hit in the 7th to continue his torrid offensive start to the campaign. His average currently stands at .444 through just five games played.
After a leadoff walk to Jed Lowrie in the 3rd, Josh Donaldson continued to make it quite clear that his early-season struggles are a thing of the past, lifting a 91 mph fastball on the outside half of the plate over the high wall in right-center field. Pelfrey settled down to get Yoenis Cespedes, Callaspo, and Derek Norris in order after the big fly, but the damage was done — Oakland's lead stood at 3-1.
Sam Fuld surprised everybody by mimicking Donaldson an inning later — with one out and Nick Punto on first base, Pelfrey threw him a get-me-over, 89 mph fastball on a 3-1 count. Fuld jumped all over it, launching a line drive down the right field line that barely stayed fair.
With a comfortable four-run lead, Straily cruised through the next five innings, allowing just two hits following Dozier's solo shot in the first inning. It's remarkable how deep Oakland's starting pitching is — no A's starter has allowed more than three runs in any of the club's first nine games. That includes Josh Lindblom, who was never even on the 25-man roster (he started the nightcap of last Wednesday's doubleheader, for which the A's and Indians were each allowed 26 players).
The A's added some unnecessary insurance in the 6th inning on a Josh Donaldson single up the middle — Fuld scored easily from third base, but Jed Lowrie was thrown out trying to score from second. The call was upheld after an umpire-initiated review to determine whether Minnesota catcher Josmil Pinto was blocking the plate; it quickly became clear that he had possession of the baseball at the time he denied Lowrie a lane to the plate.
The bullpen did a good job of closing this one out, with Ryan Cook continuing his successful return from the disabled list with a scoreless 8th and Fernando Abad shutting the door with no trouble in the 9th.
With the win, the A's improve to 6-3, and will enjoy a happy flight to the West Coast before kicking off a three-game set in Seattle. Tommy Milone will face Felix Hernandez tomorrow at 7:05; thankfully Safeco Field has a roof, so there's no risk of un-tarped infields causing any more series delays.