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Stellar Pitching and Key Double-Plays Lead First-Place A's To Series Win

I love the double-play! Go me!
I love the double-play! Go me!

CT post-game discussion continues here.

The first game thread could have been mistaken for a puppy-training website, with the "DOWN, CAHILL, DOWN!" instructions, but that is probably the best advice one could give Cahill. Well, aside from telling him not to walk Max Ramirez (twice!).

Despite some defensive problems behind him (a misplayed ball in center, a dropped popup by Kouzmanoff and a later throwing error), Cahill had little trouble winning his first game of the season with his 5+ innings of work combined with four innings of help by the A's solid bullpen. Cahill left more pitches up in the zone than he should have, but his end result was pretty fantastic; he didn't allow an earned run in the outing, despite giving up five hits and three walks (he struck out four).

The game started out on an ominous note; Andrus ended an 11-pitch opening at-bat with a single, but after two close plays at first base on the pickoff, Powell made a perfect throw to second base to gun him down before he could inflict damage on the bases.

The A's put up immediate run support for their young pitcher; after a leadoff single by Pennington and a ground-rule double by Barton, both Sweeney and Kouzmanoff grounded out to get both runners home. The A's would cling to the two-run lead until Patterson (yes, Patterson, yes, I KNOW!) belted a solo homerun in the fifth to extend the lead to three.

Meanwhile, Cahill gave up some hard-hit balls in the second, and a basehit that wasn't exactly his fault (it looked like Rajai misjudged a fly ball), but he escaped unscathed. Interestingly enough, Cahill's first ground ball out didn't come until the third inning, and it was a big one, as a double play erased the ill-advised lead-off walk.

Cahill gave up another one-out walk in the fifth inning, followed by a single (after Kouz lost a foul ball in the sun on the at-bat), but he got lucky with Elvis Andrus's first GIDP of the year to end the inning, with Texas still held scoreless. Cahill would start the sixth, but after a throwing error by Kouzmanoff and a single brought runners to the corners with no one out, Tyson Ross would replace him. He would give up the unearned run, but the third double-play of the game helped him to escape a crooked number.

Rajai singled to open the seventh, and stole third base after an interestingly-called Pennington sacrifice bunt got him to second, continuing his successful run of stolen bases (he has been thrown out only once, and it was on a pitchout). Barton knocked him in with a hustling double, and the A's added a much-needed insurance run.

In somewhat sad news (for those of us who remember the pre-injury Chavy), Kouzmanoff was intentionally walked in the inning to bring up Chavez, who was pinch-hit for by Fox. If pinch-hitting for your DH isn't an ominous sign, I don't know what is. The A's would only score one in the inning, but it would be enough.

Brad Ziegler, who continues to be awesome, shut down Texas in the eighth with only 8 pitches (even recording a strikeout) and Bailey blew through the ninth for his fifth save of the season and second in two days.

This was a great win for the A's, considering the red-hot Rays are coming to visit on Friday (we might need the game thread!)

In injury news, Ellis is rehabbing, but with no timetable on his return, and from multiple Twitter posts: "Duchscherer received cortisone shot, will attempt to throw again May 10 or 11."

Great series; see you all back on Friday!

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