The Official Baseball Rules are quite clear on how a starting pitcher gets a win. The starting pitcher has to pitch five innings, has to leave with the lead, and the team has to hang onto the lead. Zito left with the lead but he only pitched four innings, and the A's bullpen disappointed in hanging onto that lead. Ryan Dull is credited with the official win, the first in his career, in Oakland's 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, and Dull pitched okay.
But screw the Official Baseball Rules. It's my scorecard and Barry Zito gets the win in my book:
In what may have been his final career start, Barry Zito threw 76 pitches on three days rest from his abbreviated Saturday start and looked like he belonged out there, if only as a back-end starter. The only runs he allowed were two solo shots: the first was basically a home run derby fastball to Mike Trout, the other a leadoff shot to David Freese in the fourth. His curveball looked sharper than it had Saturday.
His chance to even finish four innings was in trouble after Shane Victorino followed Freese's home run with a single. Carlos Perez grounded out to Zito, who threw low to shortstop Marcus Semien, but he held on to get one out. Zito wrapped up his day by making a nifty catch on a Johnny Giavotella liner into his glove, doubling off Carlos Perez at first base.
The A's actually handed Barry Zito the lead in the fourth inning with three unearned runs against Angels starter Garrett Richards. Johnny Giavotella kicked a grounder to him from Danny Valencia, and with the bases loaded the A's scored on a two-out 0-2 bases clearing double from Eric Sogard to make it 3-1 in the top of the fourth.
Melvin says "We don't win that game without Barry Zito. He gave us a chance to win."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) October 1, 2015
Daniel Coulombe and Dan Otero pitched a fine fifth inning, stranding two base runners. Edward Mujica, however, had another poor outing. He was charged with three runs, including a two-run home run to Johnny Giavotella, to give the Angels a 5-3 lead after six.
The A's came charging back in the top of the seventh to deny Garrett Richards the win after Mike Morin entered in relief. This time, the Angels second baseman was defensive substitute Taylor Featherston, who immediately lead off the inning by booting an Eric Sogard grounder to him. Coco Crisp advanced Sogard to second on a pinch hit single:
Coco Crisp is now 6 for 13 as a pinch hitter.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) October 1, 2015
Billy Butler pinch hit for Sam Fuld at the top of the order and worked a walk to load the bases. Craig Gentry pinch ran for him. Morin exited.
Trevor Gott entered, and Mark Canha narrowed the score to 5-4 on his bloop single to move everyone up ninety feet. Josh Reddick then worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game at five. Danny Valencia flew out, but Stephen Vogt laced a two-out base hit in front of Kole Calhoun to score Gentry and Canha and give the A's a 7-5 lead at the seventh inning stretch. The A's score an eighth run after Marcus Semien tripled and then scored on C.J. Cron's error.
The results for Ryan Dull were not as good as his line indicated. He actually gave up consecutive base hits back in the sixth inning, but benefited from Kole Calhoun trying to sneak home a run from second on a slow roller to shortstop Marcus Semien, who could not get Mike Trout in time. Instead, Calhoun ran into the third out at home, 6-3-2. Dull did work a 1-2-3 seventh inning, but allowed a one-out solo home run to Carlos Perez in the bottom of the eighth to tighten the game to 8-6.
Sean Doolittle entered, needing to get five outs. Doolittle got two quick ground balls to finish the eighth inning, but he started the ninth by giving up a home run to Kole Calhoun and make it a one-run game, 8-7, with Mike Trout coming to bat. Doolittle walked Trout.
A long at bat against Albert Pujols ensued, with Doolittle pumping in fastball after fastball, just as he had in his previous appearance. Pujols fouled off fastball after fastball until finally he popped up to second baseman Eric Sogard.
Sean Doolittle on war with #Angels Albert Pujols: "I thought about throwing something other than fastballs, but I couldn't. It was intense."— John Hickey (@JHickey3) October 1, 2015
Actually, with tying run Mike Trout waiting for the ball to fall at first, Ray Fosse thought Sogard should have let the ball drop intentionally so as to have the slower Albert Pujols at first base, or at least force him out of the game for a pinch runner. This could have proved important, as David Freese singled to advance Trout from first to third and put the tying run ninety feet away.
After Curt Young went out for a conference with all the infielders, Collin Cowgill grounded the first pitch just fair to Danny Valencia, who threw across the diamond to retire Cowgill and end the game, Oakland on the right side of a high-scoring one-run affair.
#Athletics Sean Doolittle: "If you had told high school me I would save last game Barry Zito pitched, unbelievable. Every LHP watched him."— John Hickey (@JHickey3) October 1, 2015
Yes, the Angels hit five home runs. Yes, the Angels were charged with four errors. But a win is a win, and winning is fun, no matter what somebody might say about draft position or what have you. And this is probably it for Barry Zito, though don't rule out perhaps one last relief appearance this year:
Zito particularly likes idea of eating dinner with family for an entire calendar year. "What a concept!" he says.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) October 1, 2015
I asked Zito if he might be available in relief Sunday. "I'm down for anything," he says with a grin.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) October 1, 2015
The Athletics have off Thursday before finishing the season with three games against the Seattle Mariners. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM. But from Anaheim Wednesday night it was the A's 8, the Angels 7.