When a team keeps failing with runners in scoring position, you can look at it two ways. It's either going to catch up with you and come back to haunt you, or eventually the dam will break. Thankfully tonight the A's went the latter route, eventually breaking it open to give Jesse Chavez a well deserved win in the Bay Bridge Series Opener.
Jesse Chavez was brilliant tonight. Taking advantage of the wide strike zone, he painted the outside corner to lefties with the fastball, and his curveball was working. He was dealing, amassing nine strikeouts and allowing just four hits over six innings. No runner even got past second base. Actually, to give you an idea of how dominant Chavez, Abad, Otero and Cook were tonight, the only runner that even reached second base was Joaquin Arias, twice. And once was only because he stole second.
Then again, it's hard to know how much credit to give to the A's pitching staff, because the Giants just suffered their fourth shutout in eight games. "Punchless" doesn't even begin to describe their lineup.
On the flip side, the A's kept knocking on the door but Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong was able to keep it shut for some time. In the first five innings the A's went 1-12 with runners in scoring position and managed just one run, scratched out in the most NL-style way possible. Craig Gentry led off and was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count. He was hit on the hands, and the Giants challenged the call. The call was upheld (although video looked somewhat inconclusive). Gentry stole second, and then Coco Crisp bunted for a base hit on a perfectly placed bunt that Coco needed all of his speed to beat out. John Jaso scored Gentry on a groundout and the A's had a 1-0 lead.
The sixth inning was where the A's really started to do damage. A hit batsman again started the rally, with Vogelsong hitting Josh Donaldson on an 0-2 count. Jed Lowrie's base hit gave the A's first and third with nobody out. The struggling Alberto Callaspo finally got the big hit on reliever Juan Gutierrez' first pitch (nice pitching change, Bochy), crushing a long double to the gap in right-center and plating both to give the A's a 3-0 lead. The A's strung together a few more hits and a couple of Brandon Crawford throwing errors in the seventh to tack on two more runs, bringing the lead to five.
Meanwhile, the A's bullpen mowed down the meek Giants batters. Former Giant Dan Otero recorded four easy outs to take it to Ryan Cook for the 1-2-3 ninth. Abad and Otero now both have a 1.98 ERA.
As a whole the A's have allowed all of 4 runs in 5 games on this homestand. That's a 0.75 ERA over 48 innings. Oh and by the way this team has at least two major league quality starters and at least three such relievers hanging out at AAA-Sacramento. And no Giants, you can't have any. May as well get used to second place, suckas.