Oakland 4, Toronto 3 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 13-12
Gio Gonzalez pitched a great game. Not only did he snap the A's four game losing streak, but his performance makes me feel a little bit better about the A's chances in the next few weeks as the A's battle through injuries to the pitching staff. Gio is going to have to be a reliable starter if the A's are going to succeed with Brett Anderson and Justin Duchscherer out. Ben Sheets has been far from dominant, Trevor Cahill looked awful the other night, and who knows what exactly to expect from Vin Mazzaro. Unless Sheets turns it around, Gonzalez and Dallas Braden will be the leaders of the staff.
Gio's final line alone, 6.2 innings and 2 runs allowed, doesn't fully capture what starts like this mean for his future. First, he easily could have (and probably should have) escaped with only one run against him. More importantly, though, he threw about 70% of his pitches for strikes, got twelve ground balls, and struck out eight. He walked two and gave up only three hits, one of which was an infield single. Gio's always been able to strike hitters out, but his control this season has been much better. If he can get more grounders, that's money at the bottom of the ice cream sundae.
Even though I don't expect much from Josh Donaldson this year, I love watching players get their first major league hits. I also love pranks. (This one from earlier this year, courtesy of Tim Hudson, was one of the funnier ones I've seen in a while.) After Donaldson's homer, the A's players all congratulated Jake Fox, who had scored on the home run, initially ignoring Donaldson's obviously much more impressive and more meaningful feat. This is one of the little things that makes baseball awesome.
The A's offense as a whole, though, was a mixed bag. Four runs and ten hits aren't horrible totals and it was just enough today. But only two of the hits were for extra bases and I really expected more against Dana Eveland. Eveland was so bad last year and if the A's can't crush him, I don't know who they can rough up. Today, the A's will have their hands full with Shawn Marcum, who's a much better pitcher than Eveland. Marcum's also only walked seven batters so far this year in five starts, so the A's offense can't rely on wildness to reach base today. They'll have to get hits, and hopefully some extra base hits, to be competitive today.