In Brad Mills' first start, it was easy to see why the Milwaukee Brewers were willing to part with him for the dubious sum of one dollar. Not this time. Mills worked six scoreless innings tonight before Bob Melvin got a tad ambitious, leaving him in for the 7th inning and pulling him after he allowed a three-run home run to Lucas Duda.
Before the home run, though, Mills was solid, helped along by significant run support from his teammates. Oakland gave their newly acquired starter a 2-0 cushion before he even had to take the mound, and extended it significantly, leaving Mills with a 6-0 cushion going into the bottom of the 2nd. He didn't disappoint, throwing a 1-2-3 first inning and working out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 2nd to preserve the lead.
Mills ended up allowing nine hits — he didn't walk a batter — in 6⅓ innings, the three runs all coming on Duda's no-doubter to left. The trusty trio of Dan Otero, Luke Gregerson, and Sean Doolittle closed things out, giving the Athletics an 8-5 victory and staving off a mini-sweep at the hands of a bad-to-mediocre NL East team, a good first step in this three-city road trip.
The majority of Oakland's runs came on a pair of big swings from the middle of the order. The first came in the first inning, when John Jaso came up with a one-out single and Yoenis Cespedes replaced him on the basepaths after a fielder's choice. That brought up Brandon Moss, who launched an absolutely no-doubt blast to the right field corner, a ball that landed halfway up into the second deck at the supposedly cavernous Citi Field.
The A's quickly threatened again in the 2nd inning, via a walk from Josh Reddick and a pair of singles from Alberto Callaspo and Coco Crisp, the latter of which scored Reddick. Then Jaso walked to re-load the bases, which Cespedes promptly cleared with a line-drive double down the left-field line, putting Oakland up 6-0. Zach Wheeler was roughed up today, obviously, and was pulled in favor of a pitch hitter in the bottom of the 2nd.
Josh Reddick punctuated a brief lull in the game in the top of the 3rd inning, when he made a catch that only he would even consider attempting, once against proving that his worth to this team extends far beyond his offensive capabilities. Reddick made a quick read and got a good jump on a Chris Young pop up, one that looked like it was going well out of play. But Reddick streaked to partition between field and stands in shallow right field, reached behind and around an oblivious fan making a play on the ball, and came up with it. Add this to the ever-expanding reel of surprising and extremely Josh Reddick defensive plays.
Coco Crisp added a run on a solo shot to left field in the 4th, and Mills added one himself in the 6th when he grounded into a double play, allowing Josh Reddick to score from 3rd.
Dan Otero got a double play of his own in the 7th to finish the inning on Mills' behalf, but Gregerson had some trouble in the 8th, allowing a two-run home run to former Athletic Chris Young, who presented a major thorn in Oakland's side in both games this week.
But Doolittle left no doubt in the 9th inning, striking out the side with seemingly little effort. His K:BB ratio is now 53:1, he still hasn't allowed a run since April, and he continues to make the case that there's no relief pitcher in baseball as qualified for the All-Star game as he is.
The A's have the day off tomorrow before picking things up in Miami for a three-game set against the Marlins. The first game of that series is Friday at 4:10pm Pacific, with Jesse Chavez (6-4, 2.71 ERA) facing off against Miami's Anthony DeSclafani (1-2, 7.59).