OAKLAND — Jharel Cotton made things look rather easy in his major league debut Wednesday.
The right-hander silenced the Angels over 6 1/3 innings to register the victory in the A’s 4-1 win on a warm afternoon at the Coliseum. He gave up just two hits and struck out three, becoming the first A’s pitcher Porter Vaughan in 1940 to go more than six innings and give up two hits or fewer in his big league debut.
In a season that’s hardly gone according to script for the A’s, seeing Cotton deal as he did had to be gratifying for A’s officials. One of three pitchers acquired from the Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill trade, Cotton showed excellent command of a diverse repertoire and was especially effective with his array of off-speed pitches.
The A’s jumped ahead with two runs in the fourth and added a run in the fifth to make it 3-0. After C.J. Cron’s homer cut it to 3-1, Ryon Healy homered in the seventh to give the A’s some insurance.
Cotton became the 12th rookie pitcher used by the A’s this season, tying the Oakland record for rookie pitchers used in a season. He also was the 14th different Athletic to start a game this season, the most in the American League.
Starting pitching report
Cotton (1-0), just the fourth native of the Virgin Islands to pitch in the majors, mixed his full array of pitches to keep Angels hitters guessing most of the afternoon. He ran his fastball into the mid-90’s while also dropping in a slow curve and a changeup that’s considered his best pitch. He didn’t allow a base runner until Andrelton Simmons led off the fourth with a single. The only other hit off him came when Cron led off the seventh with a homer to center that cut the A’s lead to 3-1.
Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Madson closed it out, with Madson notching his 29th save.
At the plate
The A’s did enough offensively despite not taking full advantage of the opportunities presented. They broke through in the fourth with two runs. Yonder Alonso led off with a double against Angels starter Alex Meyer (0-2), who was on a limited pitch count as he works back from a shoulder injury. Jose Alvarez entered in the fourth and allowed Max Muncy’s bloop run-scoring single and Brett Eibner’s RBI double to right-center. The A’s loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth but came away with just one run, on Alonso’s single to right that made it 3-0. They put two runners aboard with no outs in the sixth but couldn’t add on.
Healy, who was named to Baseball America’s Minor League All-Star team earlier in the day, did provide some cushion. The rookie hit a towering solo shot to left to give the A’s a 4-1 lead in the seventh. It was Healy’s seventh homer since being called up immediately after the All-Star break.
In the field
Jake Smolinski made an excellent diving catch in left field in the first that helped get Cotton’s day started right.
The announced turnout was 11,866 on a warm afternoon at the Coliseum.
After taking Thursday off, the A’s welcome the Mariners for a weekend series. They’ll send Daniel Mengden (1-6, 6.66) to the hill against Hisashi Iwakuma (14-11, 4.01) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener. On Saturday, it’s Kendall Graveman (10-9, 3.81) vs. Felix Hernandez (10-5, 3.75) at 1:05 p.m. Then Raul Alcantara (0-1, 15.00) makes his second career start in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. game against lefty James Paxton (4-6, 4.03).