OAKLAND – Chris Sale and Jarrod Parker both established themselves as two of the American League’s most promising young starting pitchers last season. While Sale has continued where he left off to start 2013, Parker has experienced some growing pains. But it was Oakland’s right-hander that bested Chicago’s southpaw on Sunday, leading the A’s to a sweep-clinching 2-0 win over the White Sox.
The A’s have now won 14 of their last 16 games and remain hot on the heels of the first-place Texas Rangers.
Starting pitching report
Jarrod Parker made it through an ugly first inning to hold the White Sox scoreless over 6.1 innings.
Parker had to throw 29 pitches to make it back to the A’s dugout in the first frame. With runners at first and second and one out, Parker won a 10-pitch battle with Dayan Viciendo with a strikeout looking and needed just four pitches to get the same result against Adam Dunn to end the inning.
From the second inning on, Parker was dominant. He struck out two in a 1-2-3 second inning and set the White Sox down in order again in the third.
After issuing a leadoff walk to Conor Gillaspie in the fourth, Parker induced a double-play grounder, which proved even more important when Adam Dunn followed with a booming double off the centerfield wall. Parker struck out Casper Well swinging to strand Dunn at second.
Parker added two more 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth, then gave manager Bob Melvin one more out in the seventh before giving way to the bullpen with the left-handed hitting Dunn set to hit.
Parker, now 4-6 on the campaign, dropped his 2013 ERA from 5.40 to 4.90 with no runs allowed in 6.1 innings. He gave up two hits, walked two, struck out seven and threw 69 of his 105 pitches for strikes.
Melvin called on left-hander Jerry Blevins to face the powerful Dunn. The at-bat lasted nine pitches but ended in a routine fly ball to left. With right-handed hitter Casper Wells due up, Melvin continued to play the matchups and went with Ryan Cook, who struck Wells out looking to end the inning.
Cook remained in the game for the eighth and capped a 1-2-3 inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Tylers Flowers and Greene.
Grant Balfour allowed Alejandro De Aza to reach base via an infield single to lead off the ninth, but set down Chicago’s 2-3-4 hitters in order to earn his 13th save of the season. Balfour has now converted 31 straight save opportunities dating back to last year.
At the plate
The A’s couldn’t get anything going against White Sox starter Chris Sale for the first five innings.
Sale didn’t let an A’s runner advance to second base and struck out four heading into the sixth. But Coco Crisp led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on Jed Lowrie’s single to set the table for Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes fouled a 2-1 fastball straight back, then struck out looking on a backdoor slider from Sale. Josh Donaldson let Cespedes off the hook by driving a ball the opposite way deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Crisp and give the A’s a 1-0 lead. The run also snapped Sale’s scoreless streak at 28 innings.
Crisp scored an insurance run for the A’s in the eighth. After just missing a home run with a foul ball down the rightfield line, Crisp went the other way for a one-out single and used his speed to manufacture a run. Crisp took off for second, taking White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez out of position to catch Jed Lowrie’s line drive. With Crisp midway between second and third, White Sox centerfielder Jordan Danks bobbled the ball, allowing Crisp to come all the way home for a 2-0 lead.
In the field
Adam Rosales had to make a tough throw across his body to start a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth inning. The next batter, Adam Dunn, hit a ball to deep center that Coco Crisp sprinted back on. Crisp climbed up the wall thinking he had to attempt to rob a home run from Dunn, only to see the ball hit off the wall a foot to his right.
The A’s played error-free baseball and improved to 26-10 when playing a clean game.
According to the A’s, 23,413 fans showed up to the O.co Coliseum on Coco Crisp cereal bowl giveaway day.
The A’s hit the road for three games in Milwaukee. Oakland will start the series with Tommy Milone on Monday, then turn to A.J. Griffin on Tuesday and Bartolo Colon on getaway day. The Brewers have Marco Estrada, Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo – all right-handed pitchers – listed as their probable starters in the series.