Allowing just 4 runs in 4 games, the A's swept the 4-game series from Toronto taking the finale 4-2 behind Jeff Samardzija's dominant effort and the speed of Craig Gentry.
Clearly the man on which the microscope was on which (did I get that right, Ray? Shooty?) was Samardzija. Some players might respond with jitters, others by being amped up. Whatever he was, Samardzija was undeniably one thing: Very, very good.
In the 1st inning he allowed back to back hits with one out to put runners at the corners, but induced a DP ground ball from Jose Bautista. For the next 5 innings he was in command, stumbling only slightly with one out in the 6th when Jose Reyes singled and Munenori Kawasaki doubled to put runners at 2B and 3B. Even then, Samardzija minimized the damage, getting Melky Cabrera to bounce out to drive in the only run against him and then retiring Bautista. And then in his final inning, the 7th, Samardzija struck out the side.
The final line for the A's newest prize: 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Perhaps most impressively: 108 pitches, 75 strikes. Samardzija's splitter was impressive, he snapped off about a dozen "paralysis sliders," and his fastball consistently hit 94-95 MPH.
Now let us not forget the last hard-throwing RHP the A's acquired from the Cubs, Sean Gallagher. In Gallagher's A's debut, he wowed us with 7 shutout innings of 2 hit ball while consistently hitting 95 MPH on the gun. And then he reverted back to being Sean Gallagher. So one start is one start. But as "one starts" go, what a start. The A's got everything they hope to get from Samardzija and then some. Hats off to the new guy.
Meanwhile, Craig Gentry was a
one-man two-foot wrecking crew. After the A's put runners at the corners with one out in the 1st but failed to score, they got Jed Lowrie (leadoff double) to 3B with one out only to have Nick Punto strike out. Gentry then bounced one slowly up the middle, forcing a hurried and errant throw from Reyes that gave the A's a 1-0 lead.
Oakland added on with two more in the 4th when Stephen Vogt, Lowrie and Nate Freiman opened the inning with singles against Drew Hutchison, plating one run, and then Jaso added a two-out RBI single to give the A's a 3-0 lead. Up only 3-1 going to the bottom of the 8th, Gentry singled with two outs and then Derek Norris lined a double to left-center that was cut off on the warning track. No problem. Gentry simply put on his kitten-wings and flew around the bases as Reyes fired the relay throw home. It wasn't even close. I mean it wasn't even close!
Eric O'Flaherty had worked a 1-2-3 8th, getting three bouncers to SS. Handed a 4-1 lead, Sean Doolittle immediately gave one back serving up a HR to pinch-hitter Steve Tolleson leading off. Doolittle then retired the next three to record the save.
What this means is that the Angels swept the Astros in their 4-game series and did not gain any ground. The A's stay 3.5 up on the Angels in the AL West and now sit back awaiting news of who has a date in Minneapolis a week from Tuesday to represent Oakland in the All-Star game.