The A’s relentless offense took a break for the most part Tuesday night, but their roll continued nonetheless.
Drew Pomeranz turned in another stellar effort on the mound and the A’s blanked the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field. It’s the 10th win in the past 11 games for the A’s, who opened up a 4 ½ game lead in the American League West pending Tuesday night’s late results.
Oakland scored three times in the second but went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position on the night. It didn’t matter, as Pomeranz combined with Dan Otero, Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle on the A’s third shutout in the past seven games. The A’s pitching staff owns a 1.62 ERA over the past 11 games.
Center fielder Coco Crisp, who missed seven games recently with a strained neck, left the game in the sixth inning with more soreness in his neck. His status for Wednesday wasn’t immediately known.
Starting pitching report
Pomeranz continues to deliver in a starting role, and though he’s not gobbling up a lot of innings, he’s impressing in the time that he is on the mound. The lefty gave up just three hits, walked two and struck out three.
It continues the standout work of Oakland’s starters over this hot streak. The A’s rotation is 8-0 with a 1.42 ERA over the past 11 games.
Pomeranz has made three starts and thrown five shutout innings in each of them. He left after 89 pitches, after throwing 82 in his previous start against the Chicago White Sox. The A’s have been aiming to increase Pomeranz’s pitch count by about 10-15 pitches each start, so they’re being a bit conservative with the lefty as he’s transitioning from the bullpen. Pomeranz has completed five innings or fewer in each of his last 19 starts dating back to Aug. 1, 2012. That’s the longest such streak by a Major League pitcher since at least 1914, according to the A’s daily game notes.
Doolittle struck out two in posting his third save of the season, and after the game, manager Bob Melvin anointed Doolittle his regular closer for now. It doesn't come as a surprise, as Doolittle has been Oakland's most effective late-inning man of late. Otero chipped in two shut out innings, and his ability to throw multiple innings has been big recently when the starters haven’t gone deep into games.
At the plate
When the A’s scored three in the second, it appeared another high-scoring blowout might be on the way. But Oakland wouldn’t cross home plate again and struck out 14 times total. It wasn’t like they didn’t have their opportunities. They had two runners aboard with one out in the fourth but Coco Crisp and John Jaso both struck out to end the threat. They later loaded the bases in the sixth but came up empty. They took their early lead on Coco Crisp’s two-run double and Jaso’s RBI single against Jake Odorizzi, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings and threw 113 pitches. Though the A’s didn’t push many runs across, they succeeded once again in chasing the opposing starter early and putting pressure on a team’s bullpen early in a series.
In the field
The A’s turned three double plays on the night that contributed to their sixth shutout of the season.
Tommy Milone (1-3, 4.10) has looked strong in his past two starts, and he’ll try to turn his luck around against Tampa Bay on Wednesday. He’s got a 7.13 ERA in three career starts against the Rays. Lefty Erik Bedard (2-1, 2.78) takes the ball for Tampa Bay in the 4:10 p.m. contest.