The A’s Jesse Chavez may be about ready to face up with just how cruel a sport baseball can be.
Chavez was nothing but heroic in Thursday’s 18-inning win over the Yankees, pitching the final 5.2 innings without allowing a run and retiring the final 13 batters consecutively.
He was the winning pitcher and he lowered his ERA from 2.57 to 1.83.
And there is a reasonable chance that he will get word Friday that he’s being sent down to Triple-A Sacramento.
The A’s had their relievers throw the final 10 innings of the game, and while no one but Chavez threw a particularly long stint, teams don’t go into game without someone to give them long innings.
Chavez was the man, but now that he’s thrown 5.2 innings, the A’s are going to need someone else for at least the couple of days that he’ll need to be ready to go out on the mound again.
Because he’s bounced around baseball for a while now with stops in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Kansas City and Toronto before Oakland, Chavez is aware of the vagaries of baseball. He’s already been up and down from Sacramento twice this season. And he could be going down.
The A’s would seemingly also have the option of moving Hideki Okajima, who faced three batters and got one out Thursday. But even if the A’s bring up someone to replace Okajima, that doesn’t alter the fact that Chavez won’t be pitching for at least a couple of days.
None of that could spoil Thursday for Chavez, however.
“That’s not in my mind at all,’’ he said. “I can’t control that, so I can’t worry about it. What I can control is throwing the baseball.’’
–Okajima was in a game for the first time since June 3.
He started the 13th inning, gave up a double to Robinson Cano and an intentional walk, then induced a fly ball from Travis Hafner before Chavez was summoned to replace him.
The only thing worse than overwork for a pitcher is no work at all, and that had been the case for Okajima, and to a lesser extent Chavez with all of the starters and most of the team’s prime relievers going quality work for the last month or so.
Okajima said that both he and the team were energized by the way things worked out Thursday.
“I thought I threw the ball well,’’ he said through an interpreter. “When you are part of a great win like that, it’s good for everybody. It’s the kind of game that gets you on a roll.’’