Bay Area Baseball

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May 1, 2013
Parker into the win column for A's; Cespedes turns on the jets

OAKLAND -- A's catcher Derek Norris said he was surprised when he looked up at the scoreboard in the seventh inning Tuesday night, as manager Bob Melvin walked out to relieve Jarrod Parker, and saw the Los Angeles Angels with three runs.

"I thought he'd given up maybe one, and I looked up and it was a couple more," Norris said of Parker. "But he threw the ball extremely well."

It wasn't Parker's prettiest line -- he allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits, walking three and striking out four in the A's 10-6 win over the Angels. But as Norris indicated, it didn't feel like Parker was hit hard even in the innings where the Angels did score.

J.B. Shuck reached on an infield hit in the third and later scored on an error. Shuck beat out another slow chopper in the fifth, moved up when Erick Aybar shot a ground ball into right for a single and scored along with Aybar when Mike Trout hit a chopper that snuck just inside the third-base line into left-field for a double.

In the seventh, Parker issued a leadoff walk to Aybar, who scored when Trout tripled off reliever Evan Scribner. That was the extent of the damage done against the A's right-hander, who entered Tuesday 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA but won't carry over that winless start as the calendar flips to May.

"It looked like he was aggressive right away, pounded the strike zone, went after guys," manager Bob Melvin said. "Good changeup, good movement to his two-seamer, a lot of the things we've seen in the past."

Norris said last week that Parker seemed to have his usual stuff in his first few starts but just wasn't getting results. Against the Angels, Norris said Parker "just did a great job of mixing his pitches. We went over a game plan before the game, what we wanted to do, what we wanted to establish, and he executed to a tee."

Early that meant attacking the Angels' hitters with fastballs. The movement on the two-seamer was apparent on a second-inning strikeout of cleanup hitter Mark Trumbo, who swung over the top of one at 93 mph riding in under his hands.

"Sometimes it'll sink, sometimes it'll run straight to the side and sometimes it'll have a combination of both," Norris said. "I think that's what makes him so dangerous. Not only do the hitters now know which one it's going to be, I don't. So if it's tough for me to catch it, I know it's got to be hard for them to hit it."

Parker said he worked on some mechanical issues in his throwing sessions this week -- he didn't get specific -- and that a big part of his outing was trusting that work.

"There's a reason I've had success in the past and I didn't want to get away from who I am," Parker said. "I think I've been fighting myself and throwing against myself a little bit, and today was just about letting it happen."

It helped that the A's staked him to a 5-2 lead after five innings, then added four more in the sixth. Parker indicated that knowing the bullpen was taxed from a 19-inning game the night before also encouraged him not to nibble around the strike zone. Melvin said Parker was close to being done anyway when he came out to start the seventh at 91 pitches.

"Hopefully we can get him on a roll here for a couple outings and get him past a little bit of a tough time," Melvin said.

* Another night, another game with Yoenis Céspedes displaying his value to the A's lineup. Céspedes doubled, tripled and drove in a career-high four runs. The A's have won three in a row since his return from the disabled list and are now 11-2 when he starts.

The triple in the fifth inning was partly the product of Céspedes getting out of the box fairly quickly on a drive to left-center that bounced off the wall away from the Angels' outfielders. That wasn't by accident. Céspedes got caught admiring a similar ball on Monday night that stayed in the park and ended up with a roughly 380-foot single.

Melvin said before Tuesday's game he had talked about the play with Céspedes, who clearly thought he had a home run.

"It's not for lack of hustle," Melvin reiterated after the game. "He just misread it.

"This is something he has to think about some and he's done a great job for us. He busts his butt, he hustles. Just the one the other night was one where he misread."

Along with the triple, Céspedes notably ran out an infield pop-out in the sixth.

* Melvin said he was pretty happy with the energy level of his team, which was playing short-handed after the six-hour, 32-minute marathon win the night before. Players were allowed to report a little later than usual and had optional batting practice indoors instead of on the field.

"We have them a little extra time, but I thought everybody was in good shape today," Melvin said.

There were a couple of defensive lapses early -- notably Josh Donaldson trying to make a spinning throw on Shuck's third-inning single and throwing the ball about 15 feet over Brandon Moss' head at first base. But the infield defense shored up as the game went on.

Norris, who caught the final 12 innings of Monday's game and all nine Tuesday, said he felt refreshed -- mentally, at least -- due to 10 hours of sleep, 2 a.m. to noon.

"A lot of the guys were pounding the coffee, trying to get the caffeine to get your legs back underneath you," he said. "But just tried to ride that high tide from last night into today, and it ended up working out pretty well for us."

* Melvin was able to close out the game without using the bullpen too much, despite a short appearance by Evan Scribner, who was called up from Triple-A to provide some depth. Scribner relieved Parker and allowed three of the five hitters he faced to reach, including a monster home run by Trumbo to left-center.

Sean Doolittle, available after throwing just four pitches Monday night (though four big ones in a late strikeout of Josh Hamilton with runners on base), pitched 1 1/3 innings and Grant Balfour closed out the ninth.

The A's have an off-day after Wednesday's series finale against the Angels, which Melvin said will allow them to reset the bullpen a little.

* It's Tommy Milone (3-2, 3.38) vs. C.J. Wilson (2-0, 4.30) in the finale as the A's try to sweep the Angels for the second time already this season. Quick turnaround to a 12:35 p.m. first pitch, but hey, it could be worse. At least this one wrapped up in regulation -- and a brisk 3 hours, 39 minutes. Back in a matter of hours.

-- 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.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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