Oakland 4, Texas 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 15-14
The A's are back in first place in the weak (middle-heavy?) AL West after yesterday's 4-1 win over the Rangers. The pitching staff combined to give up only one unearned run and the A's offense was as good as can be expected...sufficient.
Trevor Cahill's start was promising, but not nearly as good as his final line (5 IP, 1 R, 4 K, 3 BB) looks. In a way, his outing looked similar to many of his starts last year, though the end results were better yesterday. His fastball and his sinker have a ton of movement. Cahill's capable of getting batters to swing and miss on those pitches and of locating them down in the zone and on the corners. He's also fairly inconsistent, leaving many pitches up and losing command too often.
The third inning was representative of Cahill's strengths and weaknesses. He walked Max Ramirez (bad), but good Julio Borbon to hit into a double play (good). Elvis Andrus then reached on bunt single and Michael Young walked on five pitches, bringing Josh Hamilton to the plate with two on and two outs. Cahill then struck out Hamilton on three pitches. During Young's at bat it really looked like Cahill was struggling to locate his pitches. To Hamilton, though, Cahill threw three great pitches, including an 0-2 fastball that tailed away from Hamilton that he swung through. Cahill's obviously got potential and this start was a step in the right direction. He's just not there yet as he walked three and had a groundball rate of under 50%.
The A's bullpen continues to be solid and heavily used. Tyson Ross, Brad Ziegler, and Andrew Bailey combined for four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball to seal the win. The four inning stint comes just a day after pitching 6 innings and continues a pattern from last week where the A's starters consistently failed to pitch deep into games. This is obviously a concern, but the A's bullpen is deep and I think will be able to pitch a ton of quality innings all season if necessary. I can see the A's using a de facto nine-man pen, with Brad Kilby and Henry Rodriguez shuttling between Sacramento and Oakland. Sam Demel has also looked good for the Rivercats so far, having given up only two earned runs in 13 innings, while striking out 15 and walking four.
The A's lead in the West is nice, but we'll see if it lasts through the weekend. The Rays start a three game series on Friday. Tampa Bay has the best record in baseball and beat up on the A's pretty good last week. It's swell that the A's are doing well against their division rivals, but they'll need to get some wins against other teams as well.