OAKLAND -- Asked to summarize Wednesday’s doubleheader, which the A’s split with Seattle by losing the first game in 10 innings, 6-4, and winning the second, 2-0, behind a clutch spot-start from Drew Pomeranz, manager Bob Melvin answered:
"Well, it was a long day."
A long day of 18 ½ innings, to wrap up a long stretch of 20 games in 20 days for the A’s, so we’ll keep this relatively short. The A’s avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Mariners with Pomeranz, Dan Otero and Jim Johnson combining on a three-hit shutout, sending the A’s into their off-day with a little bit of momentum.
Pomeranz gave the A’s five scoreless innings on a limit of about 70 pitches -- he threw 68, including 47 for strikes -- allowing two hits and no walks with five strikeouts. "Five innings -- I couldn’t have expected any more than that," Melvin said. "Pretty fantastic for a guy who hasn’t started a game for us, in spring or this season."
Tomorrow’s print story focuses on Pomeranz, who made his first major-league start and earned his first big-league win as a starter since 2012, when he pitched for the Rockies. Pomeranz said he tried to treat the start like one of his relief outings this season, where he has been very successful -- he pitched exclusively out of the stretch and had a good curve to offset his fastball. He did add one wrinkle -- he said he threw changeups in a game for the first time all season, and those were effective as well.
* Otero and Johnson, meanwhile, were equally impressive. Otero actually faced the final three hitters of the first game Wednesday, then relieved Pomeranz in game two and threw three scoreless innings on 30 pitches, allowing one hit.
"My arm was definitely feeling it at the end," Otero said. "I was just glad to get through it."
Otero said it was the first time since 2009 in Double-A that he’d pitched in both ends of a doubleheader. That one didn’t go very well, he said -- he took the loss in the first game and blew a save in the second.
Wednesday was slightly better. He did allow the go-ahead RBI single to Justin Smoak in game one, though on a chopper to first baseman Daric Barton that Barton jumped for and had pop out of his glove. In the second game, though, with the A’s severely limited in the bullpen, he bridged the gap alone from Pomeranz to the ninth.
"As big as Pomeranz was for us today, definitely Otero was as well," Melvin said.
* After allowing four runs (all unearned) in 2/3 of an inning Tuesday night, Johnson was summoned for the ninth to protect a 2-0 lead and retired the Mariners’ 2-3-4 hitters in order for his first save since April 6.
"He did it in Boston, too, in an even tougher situation where he had to pitch an inning and (preserve a tie), and then we scored a run and in a tough venue to close out a game, he did it there," Melvin said. "(Today was) the first one we’ve had in a while of just a straight (save opportunity), so that’s what he’s used to doing, and 1-2-3, it’s good to see."
Johnson’s outing Tuesday snapped a streak of eight in a row where he hadn’t been scored upon, and Pomeranz said that outside of that game, "He’s looked really good." Gradually, Johnson has worked himself back into higher-leverage appearances, so it’ll be interesting to see if Melvin starts to save him more for the ninth and potential save opportunities.
* Melvin didn’t have much more after the game on Coco Crisp or Ryan Cook, who both left game one with injuries. (More on those from today’s game one story here).
Melvin said Crisp (neck strain) will likely miss "at least a couple days and then he’ll get looked at." Cook, meanwhile, whom the A’s said suffered a forearm strain, is expected to have an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.
"We’ve got our fingers crossed on both of them," Melvin said.
Cook said he’s optimistic the injury isn’t serious, but that he hasn’t had anything similar to this previously and so has "nothing to compare it to." Cook said he felt his forearm "tighten up on me" throwing a slider to Corey Hart, then "stretched it out to be able to throw again." He then threw another slider to strike out Hart.
"Then it really locked up," Cook said. "That was about as much as I could take."
Asked how it felt after the game, Cook said: "Right now it’s tight. I literally have no other way to describe it other than it’s just tight."
* Yoenis Cespedes homered for the second consecutive day, driving a fourth-inning pitch from Erasmo Ramirez over the wall in left for his sixth of the season. Cespedes continues to produce after a slower start: In his last nine games, he’s 9-for-28 (.321) with two home runs, four doubles and six RBIs.
* Otherwise, the pitching in game two mitigated the issue for the A’s over the last week -- lack of offense. They’ve scored three runs or fewer in six of their last seven games, with the lone exception being Wednesday’s game one, when they scored four times off Felix Hernandez. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
After such a long stretch of games, though, perhaps what the A’s offense needs is a day off. Melvin slipped into his post-game comments that the A’s "were a little beaten up for a couple days" after returning from Boston straight into this series against the Mariners, and said if he could pick a time for the day off, "I would choose tomorrow."
So it’s a rest day before the Washington Nationals come to Oakland for an interleague series beginning Friday. The pitching probables are as follows:
Friday: LHP Tommy Milone (0-3, 5.86) vs. RHP Doug Fister (0-0, ---)
Saturday: RHP Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.91) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (2-1, 4.17)
Sunday: LHP Scott Kazmir (4-1, 2.64) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 2.91)