Bay Area Baseball

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April 14, 2013
After another rough start, A's Parker says he's 'just a tick away'

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker made it through just 3 1/3 innings and allowed nine hits for the second consecutive start Sunday. The difference from his last one -- when he gave up just two runs in Anaheim -- was the Detroit Tigers made him pay with a career-high eight runs allowed in the A's 10-1 loss at the Coliseum.

Parker had a rocky spring and has not fared much better in his three regular-season starts. His ERA is currently at 10.80, and he has allowed 23 hits in 11 2/3 innings. In addition, as manager Bob Melvin noted, Parker has walked eight and recorded just four strikeouts, a year after he led the A's with 140 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings.

"I'm just a tick away, I feel like," Parker said. "It's something where I've just got to keep working hard and not dwell too much on what's done is done."

What exactly is troubling Parker, though, seems tough to pinpoint. Against the Angels, he said his fastball command was poor. It was better Sunday, but Parker said he "didn't have much off-speed today," all the more reason for the Tigers to key on the fastball -- which they did, including several that Parker left up in the zone.

"I think today he was trying to pound the zone early on with the fastball," Melvin said. "And he was. They were just hitting it.

"After what we saw last year and what we've seen at times this year, it's puzzling when he gets hit because his stuff is so good. He's just kind of been giving up a lot of hits."

Parker said he feels "good" physically. His threw his fastball Sunday in the 91-94 mph range. Parker threw a lot of innings last year -- 214 2/3 total including Triple-A and the playoffs -- and said he pushed his offseason throwing program back a little as a result. But he said he doesn't feel lingering fatigue from the workload.

"I've been working to feel fresh and get to that point," Parker said. "It's something where it's early and to bounce out of spring training feeling 100 percent, not a lot of guys do that. And I think to build up that arm strength right now, it's coming along."

Derek Norris, who has caught Parker's last two starts, said he sees the same pitcher from last season, and that Parker is "not catching a lot of breaks right now."

"I don't think anything's off," Norris said. "I think he's still got great stuff.

"He's making some good pitches and they're getting some base hits, whether they're weak or hard, and then it gets kind of frustrating," Norris said. "He's battling, he's making good pitches, and they (find) a couple holes here and there and then he gives up a big one. It digs him a hole.

"Once he gets a few good innings under his belt, I think he'll relax a little bit and he'll forget about everything that's happening right now."

* After striking out just 57 times in their first 10 games, the A's, who led baseball in that category last season, went down on strikes 38 times in the three-game series against the Tigers. That included eight against Anibal Sanchez on Sunday. The other two starters the A's faced in the series were Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, who were 1-2 in baseball in strikeouts last season, so the formula was there.

"They've got a great pitching staff," Norris said. "These guys get paid to strike out guys. These guys have swing and miss stuff."

Indeed, the Tigers have posted double-digit strikeouts in five of their first 12 games and entered Sunday leading the American League in the category. The A's, meanwhile, were held to four runs in the final two games of the series after going in as the highest-scoring team in the league.

"I don't know how we could swing the bat much better than we had been leading up to this series," Melvin said. "We're somewhere in between where all this is. I think we're still a good offensive club. We just got shut down the last couple games."

* Melvin said outfielder Coco Crisp, who missed the last two games with a strained left groin, could play against the Houston Astros tomorrow night but will most likely be a game-time decision.

* After Parker hit Prince Fielder with a high fastball in the second inning, Norris stepped in front of Fielder and appeared to exchange a couple words with the Tigers slugger. It was an odd play to begin with -- Parker's pitch was high and tight, but Fielder appeared to stick his right elbow out and Parker came off the mound arguing the pitch wouldn't have hit Fielder if not for that movement.

"He just didn't care for how high it was to his body," Norris said. "But we obviously weren't coming in and up because that's obviously a no-no. Especially when you intentionally walk a guy (in the first inning) and then hit him, that's obviously going to raise a few question marks.

"But I didn't feel like the ball was extremely close. I think he kind of stuck his elbow out a little. He was probably protecting his face, which was fine. But he just said it was a little high for his liking, and I said it wasn't intentional, we were just trying to go high, and he said OK."

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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