On Saturday night, the A's continued their trend of not giving up many runs (if any) when they win.The A's pitching staff tallied their fifth shutout of the season en route to a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The A's didn't do much of anything wrong tonight, and it all started with Jesse Hahn.
Hahn's outing wasn't very different from Sonny Gray's outing the night before. Gray went six innings on Friday night, walking one, striking out five, and inducing thirteen ground balls, while Hahn went 5 1/3 innings, inducing eleven grounders and striking out none. The difference was, the BABIP gods favored Hahn, as none of his grounders found holes. Sonny, on the other hand, wasn't so fortunate, as seven of the grounders he induced got through. Simply put, both pitched pretty well, but Hahn got quite a bit luckier.
Not to take anything away from Hahn, of course. Hahn threw some fantastic curveballs, and his stuff looked great. Against a less aggressive team, Hahn could have tallied double-digit strikeouts tonight. However, he was facing the contact-oriented Royals, who swung early and often. They just happened to use up all of their luck last night, as tonight every grounder they hit found a mitt.
The A's offense, on the other hand, decided not to leave it up to luck. In the top of the fourth, the A's scored all five of their runs for the night. Sam Fuld led off the inning with a walk, and Stephen Vogt quickly knocked him in by spanking a double the other way. After a Ben Zobrist groundout, Billy Butler smacked a liner into left to score Vogt. Ike Davis drew yet another walk, setting the stage for Josh Reddick to crush a fastball well over the right field fence. The A's led 5-0, and up came Brett Lawrie.
It's pretty clear that Kansas City, neither its team nor its fans, like Lawrie one bit after his hard slide into second injured KC shortstop Alcides Escobar on Friday night. Royals starter Yordano Ventura let Lawrie know what he thought of the incident, and plunked Brett in the elbow with a 99 MPH fastball. Lawrie calmly, silently, and maturely walked to first base. Meanwile, Ventura was ejected and the benches cleared. Yohan Pino, recently recalled in favor of the injured Greg Holland, replaced Ventura and did a nice job of it, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
From then on, A's reliever Jesse Chavez was the star of the game. After Hahn was pulled an out into the sixth due to a blister on his right middle finger, Chavez dominated the Royals, showing off augmented stuff after having added thirty pounds in the offseason. Chavez was hitting 96 MPH with ease, despite averaging just over 91 MPH on his fastball last year (albeit as a starter). Chavez closed out the game, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the Athletics' first save of 2015 and for his the second save of his career. Chavez allowed four hits, walked one, and struck out six.
Tonight's game was a clean one on both sides of the ball for the A's. It was the kind of victory that could provide much-needed momentum for a team that has only won two games in a row once so far this season. The Royals, on the other hand, don't have much to take away from tonight's contest as their BABIP luck is starting to run dry.
Tomorrow, the Athletics take on the Royals once more for the rubber match of this three game series. Game time is 11:10 AM PST, as lefties Scott Kazmir and Danny Duffy will duel. Tonight's win can only mean good things for the A's going forward! Let's go Oakland!