Oakland dethrones the King

By Jason Wojciechowski on April 8, 2006 at 3:40 PM

If I were a sports-betting man, I'd be down $135 right now. I'll take that loss of fake money, though, since it comes because the A's defeated the Mariners last night, contrary to my prediction. Felix Hernandez was fine, allowing just one run in five innings, but the A's worked his pitch count, drawing four walks and getting him to 100 pitches. This forced the M's to go to the bullpen. Julio Mateo came on and promptly gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings. Most of the damage appears to be caused by the six walks he gave up. Overall, the A's walked eleven times: the only starters not to walk were Eric Chavez (who had a bad day, at 0-5 with three strikeouts and seven men left on base) and Nick Swisher (who singled once).

On the other side of the ball, Joe Blanton did exactly what he needed to do: strike out six guys in eight innings and walk just one. The A's defense took care of the rest as he allowed just two hits, leading to no runs. Justin Duchscherer finished things off, striking out two in the ninth, including fanning Ichiro, a rare occurrence: Ichiro strikes out less than once every ten at bats for his career.

The A's won the stolen base battle 1-0 (Milton Bradley took second after one of his three walks); the GIDP battle 2-1, as Jason Kendall (who else?) hit into the A's only double play; the extra-base hit battle 2-0 (Mark Kotsay's first double and Marco Scutaro's second triple); the strikeout battle 8-7; and the aforementioned walk battle 11-1.

Antonio Perez got the start at shortstop for the A's, but Scutaro came in later and hit that triple. Perez went 0-2 with a walk and two strikeouts. It's unclear at this time whether Scutaro just came in for defensive purposes or whether something happened to Perez. The ESPN game recap mentions nothing. I'll update if I find anything.

Tonight's game pits Barry Zito against Jaime Moyer. USA Today has the tidbit that Zito is 0-8 in his last eight road starts against Seattle. Moreover, Moyer's not the type to beat himself like Julio Mateo did last night, and I can't see him only going five innings to let the A's get into the bullpen's underbelly. On the other hand, Oakland finally has some right-handed power (Bradley, Thomas, Payton) that might trouble Moyer. The A's are the favorites, but it's not overwhelming (-115). I'll take Oakland in this one.