You know what they say: if in the first inning you don't succeed enough; in the second, try again.
OK they don't really say that but that philosophy worked just fine for the A's offense this afternoon, and Vin Mazzaro was the beneficiary. Staked to a 2-0 lead after Oakland's first turn at bat, Mazzaro gave it right back on a long two-run homerun to left by Ramón Castro. But when his teammates pushed across three more runs in the second off Chicago starter Freddy Garcia, the young right-hander made those scores stand up- and then some.
As for Garcia, it was indeed a long, strange trip; long in terms of pitches anyway, of which he threw 69, and had only four outs to show for it. The 1.1 innings thrown was the shortest stint of his career, a span of 292 starts. It didn't help that he was betrayed by the normally reliable Omar Vizquel, who- under an unforgiving sun, mind you- allowed a pop fly off the bat of Greg Gross with the bases loaded and two outs to drop untouched in foul territory. Gross followed that with a slow roller to third, which Vizquel tried to bare-hand but was unable to field cleanly, and the A's had their second run of the inning (the first coming on an RBI-double by Daric Barton).
Given a lead for a second straight inning, Mazzaro settled down quite nicely, dominating the White Sox with a dazzling array of sliders and changeups. He retired the side in order in the third and fourth, and laughed in the face of the cardinal sin that says don't walk the leadoff man in both the fifth and sixth. Mazzaro finished off his day with three consecutive strikeouts, and five overall.
Not bad for a guy who labored through 30 pitches in the first (Garcia topped him with 44); an inning that took more than hour to complete.
The A's played small-ball in a three-run second. Cliff Pennington singled to lead off, was sacrificed to second by Coco Crisp, and scored on Barton's run-scoring knock. Barton then stole second base, and touched home on a single by Kurt Suzuki. After a walk to Jack Cust sent Garcia to the showers, Kevin Kouzmanoff greeted reliever Tony Peña with an RBI-two bagger to left.
In the fourth Suzuki, he of the extended contract, extended the A's lead to 6-2 with a homerun that was originally called a double, and Cust followed with a big fly of his own. He wasn't finished. After Oakland tacked on two more runs in the sixth, Cust crushed a Scott Linebrink offering to deep right-center, a towering thing of beauty that put the finishing touches on a fabulous afternoon at the Coliseum. For Jack, it was not only his second jack of the day, but his sixth in nine games (that, ahem, he's played in).
And yes, RRS, the A's are indeed the best in baseball in day games, a sparkling 23-10 in fact.