By Jason Wojciechowski on May 29, 2013 at 12:37 AM
A bullet-thoughts recap:
Michael Kickham didn't look bad for the Giants, but he combined getting a tad squeezed here and there with missing his spots at the worst times (homer to Derek Norris, bases-loaded walk to Jed Lowrie) to come out the loser.
Nobody likes pitching-change theater, but I loved what Bob Melvin pinch-hitting Seth Smith in the third inning and Bruce Bochy countering with Javier Lopez represented: it was 4–1 at that point, so a hit would really break things open while an out would keep things well within reach for San Francisco. It was an early-game high-leverage spot, and that's exactly why the A's have a roster full of platoons and it's why the Giants have matchup relievers.
Smith, as long as we're on the subject, looked horrendous against Lopez and Jose Mijares. This isn't news, but it's a nice reminder sometimes that he has a skill-set and that skill-set is bashing the 80 percent of pitchers who throw with their right arms.
The Derek Norris homer to left was fun, a liner rather than a high drive, and I wasn't sure off the bat whether it would be fair, though it clearly had enough to get out if it did stay inside the pole. As it turned out, it wasn't particularly close to going foul, which shows (a) how I'm not that great at watching baseball; (b) how hard it is to watch on TV; (c) both.
The A's have won six in a row and faced lefty starters in four of those games. I'd rather have Seth Smith over Luke Montz, but the Nate Freiman—Brandon Moss platoon is playing more even than you'd think and lefties have to deal with right-handed regulars Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, and Derek Norris. Before this game, the team had 44 more points of OBP and 29 more points of SLG against lefty pitchers. By OPS+, the A's hit 20 percent better than the league does against lefties (compared to 5 percent worse than the league against righties).
In short, then, I'm not seeing a coincidence between the streak and the lefties.
Jarrod Parker threw his fourth straight quality start and this third straight game of at least seven innings. He's struck out 19 batters in 27 1/3 innings in that span, a respectable rate, with eight walks (four walks in his last 21 innings), three homers, and, by ESPN's numbers, 34 grounders to 41 flies. (His ground:fly ratio in 2012 was 0.84, and 34:41 translates to 0.83.) You don't want to start proclaiming the rebirth, especially since the four starts came against the Mariners (25th in runs), Royals (23rd), Giants (13th), and Rangers (10th). Those last two teams have respectable offenses, especially since the Giants got to use the designated hitter against Parker, but none of the four have hit like gangbusters so far. Still, the tide may finally have turned.
Six more walks for the A's. They lead all of baseball with 219. That's a 669-walk pace. The all-time single-season team record, per FanGraphs, is the 1949 Red Sox, with 834. If the A's finished with 669, they'd tie for 87th with the 1951 Giants, surrounded by the 2000 Dodgers on one end and the 2004 Yankees and 1996 Mariners on the other. That's respectable!