By Jason Wojciechowski on June 14, 2004 at 7:46 PM
The A's have apparently decided that they're not going to let Eric Chavez's absence bother them one bit. They continued their crazy offensive run with a 13-3 pounding of the Pirates yesterday, their eighth straight win. Coupled with some rivals' losses, this pushed them 1.5 games ahead in the West, and they're a game ahead of Boston for the second best record in the whole AL, behind just the Yankees.
As often happens when you score thirteen runs in a game, the A's rode big hitting days from a number of their players: Eric Byrnes, still hitting leadoff with his excellent .379 OBP, had a homer, two walks, and a double; Mark Kotsay, now hitting third, had four singles; Jermaine Dye had a triple (!) and two singles; Scott Hatteberg hit his eighth homer of the year along with a single; Erubiel Durazo had two singles and a double; and Adam Melhuse hit a grand slam for his fourth homer of the year. You always feel bad for the one guy who has a bad day in these games, because there's always one. In this case, it was Bobby Crosby, who was 0-5 with eight men left on base.
The pitching has been clicking along without too many blips for Oakland, too. Mark Mulder continued his strong season (2.97 ERA) with eight innings of three-run ball, though two of the runs came on homers. Mulder was, as usual, very efficient, as he threw just 97 pitches, 61 of them for strikes. Someday soon, pitching coaches everywhere will be using Roy Halladay and Mark Mulder as the models for how they want their charges to act on the mound. Throw less pitches, get ground balls, and you'll pitch deep into games. Obviously, it's easier if you have the talent of a Mulder or Halladay, because it's not entirely their approach that makes them successful, but perhaps in the near future, if the paradigm of pitching shifts, strikeouts won't be as useful a predictor of future performance as they currently are.
Anyway, Mulder has, as usual, been one of the best pitchers in his league, but has, as usual, been outshone by a teammate. Mulder is third in the AL in SNWAR, behind Curt Schilling and Tim Hudson. By pitcher VORP, he's also third, with Hudson leapfrogging Schilling into first. He's also third in the AL in ERA and WHIP, and, of course, first in complete games, on the strength of his three consecutive complete efforts earlier this year. Mulder is behind Tim Hudson (again) in ERA, while Jake Westbrook of the Indians is actually in the lead.
Tim Hudson will probably be in the race for the Cy Young again this year, and Curt Schilling will be the gaudy East Coast candidate, while Mulder could be overlooked. On the other hand, if Mulder continues to run up his gaudy win total (8 so far), he could be the candidate who pulls out the victory despite having been a slightly inferior pitcher; Roy Halladay, in other words.