OAKLAND – The A’s lost on the scoreboard Saturday, but came away healthy and seemingly ready for the start of the regular season.
For those reasons, count the day as a win even though Oakland fell 2-1 to the Giants and dropped the final two of the three-game Bay Bridge Series.
The A’s portion of the bipartisan crowd had its biggest reason to cheer in the sixth, when Barry Zito entered the game and pitched a scoreless inning of relief. The A’s did make noise in the bottom of the ninth, putting two runners aboard with no outs off Javier Lopez. But Hunter Strickland entered the game and shut the door, striking out Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley and Billy Burns in succession.
Oakland finished the spring with a 22-11-2 record, tying for the most spring wins by any team in Oakland history. They also led the entire major leagues in wins this spring.
Starting pitching report
The final line wasn’t all that bad for Drew Pomeranz in his final spring training start – 5 innings, 5 hits, two earned runs, two walks, 3 strikeouts. But he said he felt out of rhythm early on, and he “could have slapped myself” for the small adjustment it took to finally get him on track in the fifth inning.
He finishes the spring with a 2.38 ERA in six appearances, and the lefty ultimately won the battle for the fifth starter’s spot over Jesse Chavez. His first regular-season start will come Friday night against the Seattle Mariners.
It was a triumphant return for Barry Zito, who made his first appearance at the Coliseum in an A’s uniform since 2006. He relieved Pomeranz for the top of the sixth and received a standing ovation – and the cheers came loudly from both A’s and Giants fans.
Zito breezed through a 1-2-3 inning in just 13 pitches, and he acknowledged the crowd as he walked off the field to another standing ovation.
At the plate
The A’s entered the afternoon leading the majors in runs, but they were bottled up offensively for the second consecutive game. They were held to seven hits, and they combined for just one run over the final two games of the Bay Bridge Series.
They scratched out their only run in the sixth, when Ben Zobrist singled and came around to score on Brett Lawrie’s sacrifice fly.
In the field
The A’s played an error-free game one day after a shaky effort in the field at AT&T Park. This team suffered its share of defensive lapses in 2014, but the A’s appear to be a stronger defensive club at catcher, around the infield and in the outfield heading into this season.
Sonny Gray will take the hill Monday night as the A’s open the 2015 season against the Rangers in a 7:05 p.m. game at the Coliseum. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo starts for Texas in the opener of a four-game series.