If a line of five innings pitched, no runs, and three (or fewer) hits from Drew Pomeranz sounds familiar, that's because it is: for the third straight game, the 25-year-old lefty threw five dominant innings, didn't allow his opponent to score and let his bullpen finish off the shutout.
So for the third straight game, it wouldn't matter how many runs the A's scored, provided they pushed across at least one. Pomeranz already had a 2-0 win and an 11-0 win under his belt; this one ended up 3-0, even though that three-run margin felt tenuous from the 2nd inning onward.
Pomeranz's outing pushes his ERA for the season down to a remarkable 0.94 in 33⅔ innings pitched. In the 15 innings he's spent as a starter, he hasn't given up a run, and he has walked just four batters, allowed just eight hits, and he's struck out 16. His breaking ball was as good as ever tonight — the only thing that kept him from going deeper was his pitch count.
Bob Melvin pulled his newfound fifth starter after the fifth inning, when he'd thrown 89 pitches — threw 82 in his last outing, but at this point he has likely one more start, maximum, before his pitch count is a complete non-factor and he can stay in games as long as he's effective.
The A's scored their only three runs, despite grinding out eight hits and six walks, in the 2nd inning, all with two out. After Derek Norris walked and Eric Sogard singled, Coco Crisp brought both home with his second double of the game (he led off with a shot down the right-field line in the 1st, but his teammates couldn't bring him home). John Jaso followed Crisp with a line-drive single to left field, scoring Crisp and putting the A's up 3-0. Despite threatening repeatedly in the later innings, that was all they'd need.
Oakland has now won 10 games in its past 11 tries, sits at 13 games over the .500 mark, and owns a league-best run differential of +98. It's a sight to behold, as the A's are really firing on all cylinders. Offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, you name it — they're all working, and the team's dominance is reflected in the win-loss columns more than at any point this season.
More stats: the Athletics have now spun six shutouts in 45 games, and are a torrid 17-6 outside the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum, calling into question what's going wrong in the East Bay as much as it does what's going right on the road. The A's now lead the major leagues in wins, and trail only Detroit (the victim of several rainouts in April) as owners of the best winning percentage.
The A's certainly won't be this dominant all year long, but the current run has been beyond entertaining. Perhaps most impressive is Oakland's ability to win every type of game, from the 3-0 squeaker (actually, it was a squeaker) to the 5-4 nail-biter to the 13-3 laugher.
They'll try to pick up right where they left off tomorrow, with Tommy Milone (1-3, 4.10 ERA) facing off against Erik Bedard (2-1, 2.78) at 4:10pm. Coco Crisp, who left the game midway through due to tightness in his neck, still sore from a May 7 collision with the Coliseum's center field wall, is unlikely to be available. But fittingly, Jed Lowrie is expected to be in the lineup after missing tonight's game with a neck strain of his own.