The A's avoided a sweep by dominating the Mariners last night, winning 9-0 behind Rich Harden's seven shutout innings (three hits, two walks, seven strikeouts, no injuries) and Mark Ellis's five RBI (a three-run double and a two-run double were all he needed to rack up the stats). Bobby Crosby got into the act with two singles in two at-bats (along with a stolen base) before being pinch-hit for by Marco Scutaro (Bob Geren has talked about getting Crosby quite a bit of rest in April - when you're winning 9-0, that's a good time to give Crosby his rest).
Jay Marshall threw a full inning and got three ground-outs, so he's had a successful first two outings. Huston Street, who didn't get to work in the first two games because the A's were losing, threw a perfect 9th, striking out two Mariners on the way.
I'm a little worried about Travis Buck, who couldn't make contact last night: he struck out three times and walked twice. Sure, that translates to a .400 OBP, but it also translates to a .400 OPS, and you have to worry about rookies striking out three times in a game when everyone else on the team is smacking the ball around.
Apparently, Dan Johnson won't be out for months with his hip injury, but weeks instead. Story here. I'm not sure what this does for the A's roster. There's always a chance someone else will be hurt by that point, but you can't really wish for that. I can't imagine the A's would send Travis Buck back down already, either. My guess: Dan Johnson is headed back to AAA yet again.
Elsewhere in the majors:
The Nationals scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to take a 7-6 win over Florida. Jorge Julio blew the save, with Dmitri Young driving in the decisive run with a bases-loaded single. Apparently the play was really more of a sac-fly, but it was hit so deep that outfielder Josh Willingham wasn't going to have a chance on a play at the plate if he caught it. It was close to the foul line, though, so Willingham let it drop on the chance it would fall foul and thus give the pitcher another shot at getting Young out. But it dropped fair and the run scored, ending the game. Source.
The Nationals used a lot of players in the game, going with seven pitchers (included two ex-A's, Micah Bowie and Jesus Colome) and twelve position players.
Detroit beat Toronto by just one run as well, 10-9, but in a wildly different kind of game. The Tigers jumped out to the lead with an eight-run third inning and were up 10-2 before withstanding a seven-run eighth-inning by the Blue Jays. Those kinds of innings tend to produce ugly pitcher lines, and indeed they were available in abundance here: AJ Burnett, six runs on five hits and four walks in two innings; Jason Grilli, five runs in 1 2/3 innings; Fernando Rodney, two runs in 2/3 of an inning. More fun is to look at the offensive side of the box score: each of Toronto's 1-7 hitters had two hits (though just four of Toronto's 16 went for extra bases); Curtis Granderson had a triple and a grand slam to go with a walk and stolen base; and Vernon Wells managed a steal of third base against Pudge Rodriguez, no mean feat.
Colorado blew out Arizona by putting up a seven-run eighth inning against reliever JD Durbin. The Rockies wound up with 18 hits and eight walks, with Matt Holliday leading the way (four hits, including a double and a homer). The same concern I expressed about Travis Buck is probably being felt in Colorado right now, as Troy Tulowitzki, despite the offensive dominance displayed around him, went 1-5 with four whiffs in the game. Doug Davis had a weird game as Arizona's starter, throwing five innings and giving up eight hits and five walks, but no earned runs. Due to two Conor Jackson errors, all three of the runs allowed were unearned. The ESPN play-by-play is less than clear, but here's a description in The Arizona Republic.
The Indians won one of those one-run games where no one scores in the final two innings as the relievers throw shutdown ball. The relievers in question in this game were David Aardsma for the White Sox (two innings, a ridiculous five strikeouts) and Roberto Hernandez and Joe Borowski for the Indians. Borowski made it exciting, giving up two walks before a flyball went up in the wind and came down, just barely, in the tumbling Jason Michaels' glove. Grady Sizemore hit another homer, this one being the two-run shot that gave Cleveland the 8-7 lead in the seventh that they won with. Andy Marte also popped his first homer of the year. Veterans Trot Nixon and Darin Erstad continued their hot starts, as Nixon added two doubles to his total and Erstad singled twice, walked three times, and stole two bases. The Juvenation Machine lives!
Continuing the one-run game trend, Atlanta beat Philly 3-2 on a Scott Thorman homer in the top of the 11th. Ryan Madson again gave up that shot as he became the first pitcher this year to pick up his second loss, but the problems started when Brian McCann tied the game in the ninth with a homer off of Tom Gordon. The loss wasted a brilliant start by Cole Hamels, who gave up just four hits and a walk (no runs) in seven innings while striking out eight Braves. Tim Hudson gave up just two hits for Atlanta in seven innings, but he did walk four, so it's not all cherries and cream.
Ted Lilly had a dominant first start against the Reds, giving up just three hits and one run in seven innings while striking out nine. Lilly apparently did all of this with an inner-ear infection.
Bronson Arroyo also struck out nine Cubs for the Reds, but he gave up four runs, so the result wasn't quite as pretty.
Boston got back at Kansas City with a 7-1 win of their own. The bullpen threw four scoreless innings after Josh Beckett took 94 pitches to get through five frames - that only 46 of those 94 pitches were strikes tells you all you need to know. Of course, Mike Lowell didn't really help things by committing three errors in the game. That's hard for a bad defensive player to do, much less a guy who's as good with the glove as Lowell is. At least he can take solace in the fact that they didn't hurt the team too much. Also, ice cream cures all ills.
Alex Gordon, by the way, is still looking for his first hit.
The Dodgers avoided a sweep by the Brewers as the two teams combined to score six runs in the final two innings. Carlos Villanueva was the culprit for the Brewers, walking three straight Dodgers without getting any outs in the eighth inning. Elmer Dessens came on for him and promptly gave up Olmedo Saenz's pinch-hit double, clearing the bases. Villanueva thus has the distinction of having given up three earned runs on three walks and no hits.
Minnesota completed the sweep of Baltimore as Jaret Wright and the Oriole defense had ugly games: six runs (four earned) in 2 1/3 innings with five walks and one strikeout for Wright; three errors for the defense. Things aren't likely to start looking up for Baltimore any time soon as they have to head to New York to face the Yankees next.
Meanwhile, here's a somewhat bizarre note about Joe Mauer. He's still growing. He was 6'4" when he was drafted, but he's pushed his way past 6'5" now and is approaching 6'6". He says he's 6'6" in his shoes already (and is justifiably worried about getting so big that he has to switch positions).
Pittsbugh edged Houston 5-4 to finish a surprising sweep. Five errors in the game between the two teams shows why I don't really appreciate the ball that the NL Central plays.
The Mets just got better as their series with the Cardinals wore on, finishing the sweep by winning 10-0 last night. John Maine gave up just one hit and two walks in seven innings (though his 12 fly ball outs are a little bit of a concern) and Carlos Beltran hit a couple of homers to back Maine up. Braden Looper made his first big league start for the Cardinals and the results were fine: three runs in six innings. His bullpen and offense didn't help him out, though.
Barry Bonds' first inning homer in support of Matt Cain wasn't enough to overcome three bombs by the Padres, including one by potentially rejuvenated second baseman Marcus Giles, who went 3-4 in the game.