The Oakland Athletics dropped their second game in a row to the Rays, but it's hard not to be encouraged by the pitching performance of A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker. Entering Saturday, Parker had a 10.80 ERA and allowed a career-high eight runs, on a career-high tying nine hits in his last start.
He did a lot to prove the struggles are behind him. Parker lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one run on Saturday against the Rays. Unfortunately, that run ended up deciding the game as the Rays defeated the A's 1-0.
Starting Pitching Report
After two consecutive 3 1/3 inning performances, Parker needed to get off to a good start. He struck out Rays' leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings to start the game and pitched a scoreless first frame.
Despite allowing a leadoff home run to Matt Joyce in the second inning, Parker looked much better. After the Rays went up 1-0, Parker retired the next five batters he faced and started looking like he was finding his groove. He issued a two-out walk to Ryan Roberts in the third inning, but threw two perfectly located pitches with two strikes that home plate umpire Jim Joyce called balls.
Parker pitched a perfect fourth inning. He was chased from the game in that inning in his last two starts. He got into trouble in the fifth inning when the Rays loaded the bases with two outs. After a visit from pitching coach Curt Young, Parker got Ben Zobrist to ground out to end the inning.
The key to Parker's success is his change up. He threw a great one to strike out Joyce swinging in the sixth inning. He bought himself another inning by getting Duncan to ground into a double play to end the sixth.
After the A's bullpen pitched eight innings on Friday, Parker came up huge for the team. He was removed from the game with one out in the seventh inning.
Ryan Cook relieved Parker in the seventh inning and started a smooth double play. Escobar hit a comebacker that Cook was able to glove and throw to Sogard at second base, he tagged the bag and made a jumping throw to avoid the incoming base runner and got the throw to first in time to end the inning.
Cook pitched a perfect eighth inning as well.
At the Plate
The A's only hit three singles on Saturday and never reached second base. Coco Crisp reached on an error in the ninth inning, but went 0 for 4, ending his 12-game hitting streak.
Jeremy Hellickson threw seven shutout innings and struck out six A's hitters.
In the fourth inning, Eric Sogard reached on a one-out single. Crisp hit a shallow pop out to center field and Sogard either thought it would fall in, or thought that there were two outs, because he kept running until the ball was caught. After the catch, Desmond Jennings was able to jog to first to double off Sogard. It was the first ever eight-unassisted double play at Tropicana Stadium.
The A's had another tough break in the fifth inning. A freshly shorn Josh Reddick lined a ball that shortstop Yunel Escobar made a leaping catch on, before doubling off Derek Norris at first base. Reddick has been mired in an offensive slump, so he cut his hair and trimmed his beard. Escobar robbed him of what could have been a double. He ended the day 0 for 3.
In the Field
Josh Donaldson caught a foul pop up in the fourth inning through major traffic. As the ball approached the bullpen, about five A's relievers scattered in various different directions in front of Donaldson, who managed to keep his focus and catch the ball.
The Rays announced an attendance of 25,611.
The A's send their most consistent pitcher to the mound in Tommy Milone. He is 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA this season. Milone is the first pitcher on an A's Opening Day roster to win his first three starts since Dave Stewart in 1990.
Milone is 1-1 with an 8.18 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay.
The artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona takes the mound for the Rays. Now named Roberto Hernandez, the Rays' pitcher is 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA.