Well, as is obvious by the box score, Scott Kazmir didn't really have a chance to add to the A's amazing quality starts that the rotation is racking up in unprecedented numbers this year. I know some of you will freak out when you realize that Kazmir pitched only an inning plus in today's game, but HE'S NOT HURT (well, except his pride, perhaps). He left the game through little fault of his own, and his team picked him up, big time. In the second inning, after allowing what looked like a 2-run home run, we find out that the ball actually bounced low off the wall for a double to put runners at second and third, and after a wild pitch (ahem, passed ball) scored the first Cleveland run, Kazmir set about trying to strike out a batter with one out, another runner on third and a 3-2 count. If you look at the GameDay balls and strikes, the seventh pitch was clearly down the middle of the plate.
It was called Ball 4 instead of Strike 3 and Kazmir, rightly so, said "Um, what was that, sir?" And the umpire simultaneously warned him and threw him out of the game in the same motion.
You know it's never a good sign when an umpire's name makes it into a recap, but Jerry Layne gave Angel Hernandez run for his money tonight by kicking our starting pitcher out of the game in the second inning today after questioning a terrible call. I mean, are you kidding me?! Kazmir simply questioned the call, as hitters do all the time, and he was kicked out of the game without much ado. Who the hell kicks a starting pitcher out of a game in the second inning without anything that egregious? Congratulations, Jerry Layne! You are now important. Don't worry, the rest of the umpiring crew would later make sure that the A's would lose a replay call. (Spoiler alert!) But nothing that was thrown at the A's today seemed to matter; not squirrels on the field, nor ejections, nor replay calls, nor the interesting Cleveland defense seemed to faze the A's on their quest for victory.
Luckily for Kazmir and the gang, the A's are nothing if not resilient and flexible. With runners at first and third and one out in the second inning, Dan Otero took over the mound after Kazmir was forcibly removed, and threw one pitch and got two outs to end the inning. The A's offense, properly incensed, went to work in their half of the third inning. Coco Crisp doubled with one out, and after John Jaso struck out on a nine pitch at bat, Donaldson singled Coco in to tie the game. Not to be undone, Brandon Moss unloaded on the seventh pitch of his at-bat for a two-run home run, giving the A's a 3-1 lead.
Otero allowed a single in the bottom of the third, but the base runner was promptly erased in another double play. He allowed another hit in the fourth, but got out of that with no damage, and in the fifth, he allowed two base runners, but he himself turned the A's third double play of the night to end the Cleveland threat. He finished with 3.2 innings pitched, allowing 4 hits and zero runs, and earned every bit of his victory. He saved Kazmir and the bullpen, and put the A's easily in line for the victory.
Fernando Abad gave up a couple of hits and the only other Cleveland run in his sixth inning, but the Indians would never come closer than 3-2. The A's offense would pick it back up in the seventh as a Punto single and a Callaspo walk put two on for Donaldson. Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homerun, but for some inexplicable reason called "Replay doesn't work in Cleveland", it was called a two-run triple. Brandon Moss said screw everything and singled him in for the third run, and the A's 6-2 lead would be all she wrote as Luke Gregerson pitched two beautiful innings, striking out 3, and Doolittle finished with a flourish, striking out two in his ninth inning.
It's one of those streaks where despite everything stacked against them, the A's just found a way to win. Make no mistake; this was a stolen win, won by the depth of the A's bullpen and their sheer resilience after the would-be crushing blow in the second innings. Kazmir is okay:
Kazmir respects Layne as an umpire, says they both just had bad days. He says he'd also like to apologize to the trash can he kicked.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 18, 2014
So the A's keep rolling on, and you guys, it's the best! We have morning baseball tomorrow at 10:05AM as the A's go for the sweep!