Spring Game #29: Cotton, Maxwell, and Schrock Impress; A's Beat Brewers 11-1

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In my second Spring Training write-up (the other against this same Milwaukee squad on 3/23), the A's are once again creating a lot of work, at least as far as score summaries go.

In Spring Training Game #25, the A's offense lit up Brewers' right-hander Junior Guerra for 12 runs in less than 4 innings while Raul Alcántara pitched solidly, blanking Milwaukee until the 5th inning.

In somewhat similar fashion today, Oakland ended Matt Garza's day early with just one out in the third inning after he gave up 5 runs -- all of them earned -- to Oakland's seemingly-relentless lineup; instead of Yonder Alonso hitting two home runs, today it was Bruce Maxwell (3 for 4, adding a single as well); instead of Alcántara, it was Jharel Cotton who flashed brilliance, not allowing a single hit until the 4th inning when Ryan Braun went deep (think: mammoth shot) to left.

***Read Today’s Game Thread Here!***

Since 2015, Garza has struggled with his control and ability to simply get runners out. Posting an ERA+ in 2015 of 70 and 85 one season later, Garza's WHIP hasn't been below 1.5 since 2014 which was also the last season that he posted an ERA anywhere south of 4.00.

Garza came into today's matchup with an ERA of 6.57, allowing 9 earned runs while walking 6 batters in just 12.1 innings of work. He retired the first six Oakland batters in order, but the top of the third inning proved to be his undoing when the first five batters to begin the inning all reached safely (Matt Chapman double, Chris Parmelee walk, Max Schrock RBI double, Alejandro De Aza RBI single, and Adam Rosales HBP).

Kenny Wilson, the former second round draft pick of the Blue Jays, most recently hit .347/.421 for Miami's AA affiliate, added to Garza's scoresheet when he hit an RBI single to make it 4-0 Oakland. Garza's final batter was Maxwell, who singled to center, scoring Adam Rosales. Oakland 5, Milwaukee 0.

Garza's day ended there: 2.1 innings, 5 runs (all earned), on 5 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts; he is now 1-1 with an ERA of 8.59.

Jharel Cotton, Oakland's newest addition to the starting rotation, mixed his fastball and off-speed stuff really well over 5.2 innings; he allowed just 4 hits and 1 walk for the A's while striking out 7.

Cotton moves to 3-0 with a 4.86 ERA on the Spring and will pitch next in the Bay Bridge series vs San Francisco (Boooo).

Just for fun, let's pretend that Cotton's outing vs Seattle on March 21 -- his fourth outing of the Spring -- was like two of his previous 3 starts: 2 innings in length (a relatively believable game of pretend). In the first inning, Cotton allowed a single to Jean Segura and he walked both Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz prior to getting an inning-ending double play. In the second inning, he sat the Mariners down 1-2-3.

His revisionist line on 3/21: 2 innings, no runs, 1 hit, and 2 walks.

Cotton's ERA this Spring would place him 11th in MLB for pitchers with 15 or more innings, placing him just behind Kendall Graveman (2-1, 2.29 ERA) while his line would read as follows: 3 wins, no losses, a 2.40 ERA with a 0.933 WHIP in 15 innings of work.

The three A's pitchers that followed Cotton were of particular note for Bob Melvin's decision on who is going to be the team's closer.

Sean Doolittle, who was last season's closer coming out of Spring Training, entered in the 6th inning with Cotton's inherited runners aboard; he got the A's out of the mini-jam with a strikeout of Jesus Aguilar to end the inning.

John Axford allowed a single in the 7th inning before getting former A's nerd Eric Sogard to fly out; Orlando Arcia grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Frankie Montas got himself into trouble in the 8th inning when he allowed two base-runners aboard with 1-out before striking out ex-Oakland prospect, Jacob Nottingham and getting Monte Harrison to strike out. His ninth inning, though, was perfect.

The pitching today was fantastic, Maxwell hit two home runs, De Aza collected two more hits, but the player that impressed me the most today, without question, was Max Schrock, who went 3-for-5 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs, improving to .364/.391 on the Spring and just looks like a kid who can hit at any level.

That's it from Phoenix. The A's bats provide 16 hits and 11 runs in a rout of Milwaukee. Tomorrow is Oakland's final home game of the Spring. Andrew Triggs (1-1, 5.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) will take on Kansas City at 1:05pm.