When you’re hot, you’re hot – and A’s starter Jarrod Parker’s current hot streak grew even warmer on Sunday afternoon.
In what has to be considered his strongest outing of the season, Parker shut out an anemic White Sox offense for 6 1/3 innings (only allowing 2 hits) en route to the A’s 2-0 victory and three-game sweep of the weekend series.
With the win, Parker improved to 4-6 on the season and Oakland moved to 34-24, a season high 10 games over the .500 mark – they also secured their 8th straight home win, the longest such stretch since 2006 (which ended at 10 straight).
Sunday’s game was scoreless until the 6th, when Coco Crisp scored on a sacrifice fly to right field off the bat of Josh Donaldson. For most of the game, Parker and tough Chicago lefty Chris Sale traded zeros – but it was Oakland that finally broke through after ending Sale’s 28-inning scoreless streak in the inning.
Ryan Cook came into the game in the 7th and held the White Sox in check, picking up 3 strikeouts in his 1 1/3 innings. In the bottom of the 8th, the A’s tacked on an insurance run thanks to the speed of Crisp. He was on first after lacing a single to left field when the A’s employed a hit-and-run with Jed Lowrie. He promptly singled to center – and when Jordan Danks bobbled the play, Crisp scored all the way from first and gave the A’s a 2-0 lead.
Grant Balfour came in and shut the door in the 9th, converting his 13th save of 2013 and his 31st consecutive save dating back to last season.
Manager Bob Melvin said that Parker’s recent success is a familiar sight, more along the lines of “the Jarrod we’re used to seeing” rather than the pitcher who struggled out of the gate for most of April. Sunday’s win was also Parker’s first instance of winning back-to-back starts this season, so things are definitely looking up for him at the moment.
Parker attributed the A’s recent success to the relaxed feeling surrounding the team, specifically the fact that there is “no pressure for us to keep doing what we’re doing”. It probably also helps that Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick are all healthy and in the lineup together – each of the three core outfielders has dealt with injuries over the first two months of the 2013 campaign. They’re all back now, and the team is playing at its best as a result.
Catcher Derek Norris had an even simpler explanation for the A’s current hot streak: “Sum it up to Oakland A’s baseball”.
That brand of baseball is currently clicking on all cylinders, and will look to continue rolling on a road trip that will match the A’s up against the 21-34 Milwaukee Brewers and the White Sox (for the A’s only trip to Chicago next weekend).
The pitching match ups for the Brewers series (which begins tomorrow night):
Monday night (5:10 PST): Tommy Milone (5-5, 4.04 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (4-3, 4.96 ERA)
Tuesday night (5:10 PST): A.J. Griffin (5-4, 4.04 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (1-6, 4.37 ERA)
Wednesday afternoon (11:10 AM PST): Bartolo Colon (6-2, 3.33 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.05 ERA).