Final Score: Rangers 8, A's 5
4 in the 1st was as good as it would get for the A's today. Highlighted by Ryan Sweeney's two-run triple, Oakland jumped out to a 4-0 lead off of Kris Benson and the Rangers. And for two innings, Edgar Gonzalez looked like he would make those runs stand up and make a strong bid for that #5 spot in the rotation.
Then came the bottom of the 3rd, in which Gonzalez got just one out and surrendered 6 runs, including a two-run HR by Marlon Byrd. Jerry Blevins got the final two outs of the inning before Josh Outman took over in the 4th and became the biggest A's story of the day. Outman, who has been plagued by some mechanical and control issues this Spring and had allowed 12 hits and 5 BBs in 8.2 previous innings, put in by far his most solid effort to date: 4 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Outman's Cactus League ERA now stands at 2.13.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez has pitched well at times but his 7.94 Cactus League ERA has to be put in context: His career ERA in the major leagues, 5.97, isn't that much better. Speaking of pitchers named Gonazlez, you wonder how Edgar's poor performance and Outman's sparkling one may impact Gio Gonzalez, who would appear to be battling those two, as much as any pitchers, for a roster spot.
I also want to put a thought out there for discussion: Who should be the A's Opening Day starter given that Duchscherer won't be ready? Personally, I say it should be Dallas Braden. My reasoning is:
* There's no obvious choice
* Gallagher has pitched few Spring innings and hasn't pitched well enough to earn it
based on last year's or this Spring's performances
* Dana Eveland is not especially experienced, nor has he been "lights out" in the
* Braden is the only one who has come up through the A's system, he pitched well last year, and he has pitched well this Spring.
So Braden is my choice for the honor. Is he yours?