Control is never overrated.
Gio didn't have his best stuff tonight. At times he looked absolutely filthy, stunning hitters with a huge curveball he could drop in for a strike. At other times, he was placing fastballs everywhere except the strike zone. And against a patient team full of elite hitters like the Yankees, command is something nice to have. The Yankees drew ten walks tonight, five coming from the left hand of Gio Gonzalez in his 4.1 innings of work. All in all, the A's allowed 15 baserunners tonight, and that is never a good path to victory.
In the top of the first inning, Gonzalez made quick work of Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson, retiring both with only five pitches combined. That was about as far as Gio was allowed to run free--through a combination of excellent hitters and a little umpire squeezing, he fell apart, finally escaping the inning after three runs had scored. For a pitcher whose main knock has been his lack of mental focus, he didn't show much of an improvement tonight. To his credit, he was able to get through three more innings without much incident, but it was a case of too little, too late.
I don't think I'll be able to say this often, but all of the runs scored by Oakland tonight were on home runs. Travis Buck and Kurt Suzuki both parked balls outside of the fence. In the bottom of the 7th, Kevin Kouzmanoff came up to bat with a chance for a game-tying grand slam, but he was unable to check his swing on an outside slider, ending the inning, and ending the only real time the A's threatened. The Yankees scored early and often. Even by his standards, Alex Rodriguez had a remarkable day, with three walks and an absolute bomb that probably landed somewhere in the vicinity of Sacramento.
Javier Vazquez still hasn't shown his fantastic 2009 form, but he was definitely a little closer tonight. He didn't last very long, pitching for 5.1 innings, and he allowed all three of Oakland's runs. Interestingly, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation, with a lead of four and one out of the bottom of the 9th. As always, Rivera shut the door and planted the final nail in Oakland's coffin.
To a poorer team, this would be a dispiriting loss, but the A's are still first place in the AL West. Ben Sheets will take the mound against Yankees' fifth starter Phil Hughes tomorrow night at 7:05 PM.
Yankees lead the series 1-0
WP: Javier Vazquez (1 - 2)
LP: Gio Gonzalez (1 - 1)
|3 - 7 loss|
|Thu 04/22||12:35 PM PDT|