OAKLAND – Dan Straily has logged more miles on trips to and from Sacramento this year than some politicians. He won’t have to make the drive anymore if he pitches as well over a sustained period as he did Thursday.
Straily allowed one hit and three walks in seven innings of a 1-0 victory by the A’s over the Chicago Cubs before 26,967 at the Coliseum.
Straily improved to 5-2 on the season, and he lowered his ERA to 4.52. In the process, he showed once again that he has the stuff to stick in the majors and not bounce between Oakland and Sacramento.
To that end, A’s catcher Derek Norris spoke with Straily before the game. Norris said he told Straily to let his pitching do the talking.
“He looked like he wanted to prove something … he looked like he wanted to come out today and make a statement that he deserves to be here, and stay,” Norris said.
Manager Bob Melvin said before the game that Straily is in the team’s long-term plans as a fixture of the rotation. He added that he expected Straily to pitch Thursday as well as he did earlier this season, when Straily recorded three straight impressive outings.
Straily, in his fourth stint with the A’s this season, made a prophet of Melvin when he plowed through the Cubs order with little difficulty.
The A’s scored the game’s lone run when a Matt Guerrier pitch sailed through the legs of catcher Welington Castillo with two outs in the seventh.
Castillo had his glove turned the wrong way on the pivotal pitch. By the time he adjusted, the ball was on its way to the backstop, with Norris streaking home.
The run was unearned, for the record. The win was quite the opposite, with the A’s doing everything right from the outset.
Straily downplayed his impressive outing. In fact, he said he persevered despite not having his “best stuff.”
Reliever Ryan Cook said he didn’t notice Straily being off his game. Then again, he added, the most successful pitchers make do without their best stuff more times than not.
“We’ve seen that from him multiple times this year,” Cook said of Straily’s dominance. “It’s not a question of if he can do it. For him to go out there and do it is a big statement.”
Straily praised Norris as the “hero of the day” for the numerous ways in which Norris affected the game.
Straily arrived at the stadium without a firm grasp of the Cubs lineup. Norris brought him up to speed in prompt fashion.
Norris also tagged out Starlin Castro in the fourth inning when Castro attempted to score from second on a hit by Alfonso Soriano. He then threw out Soriano when he attempted to steal second base.
“That’s the ball game, otherwise we’re still playing right now,” Straily said of the fourth inning heroics. “I was pretty jacked up in that sequence. … That reminds us (pitchers) we don’t have to do it ourselves.”
Maybe so, but Straily looked capable of doing whatever he pleased for most of the day against the Cubs.
“After the second inning, you could just see he was on it,” Melvin said. “His mechanics were great, his release point was real consistent.”
— Grant Balfour recorded his 21st save in as many opportunities this season. His streak improved to 39 dating to last season. He moved within one save of Dennis Eckersley’s club record for most in a row (Sept. 15, 1991 to Aug. 7, 1992).
— Castro said he was shocked that A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes nailed him at the plate.
“It surprised me,” Castro said. “I thought I’d score easy, and I never stopped. I ran hard right away from second base and I’m surprised he got me out. I said ‘Wow.’ ”
— The A’s improved to 50-36 for the season. This marks the ninth time in Oakland history, and first since 1992, that the A’s won 50 games this early in the season.
— The A’s won two of three games from the Cubs and six of eight on the home stand. They play the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates on the road, beginning Friday night, the next six days.
— This was a game Castillo likely would just as soon forget. In addition to the passed ball, he struck out in all three of his at-bats.
— As expected, the A’s sent down catcher Stephen Vogt to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on roster for Straily, who started Thursday.
Melvin praised Vogt for how well he acclimated to the majors and handled the pitching staff when he played.
“He came up here and did a great job for us,” Melvin said. “Every game he played, we won. He had the confidence of the staff. … It was a good showing for him.”
— Left-handed starter Brett Anderson is slated to undergo a CT-scan on his right foot Friday, Melvin said.
Anderson has been out since April 30, when he suffered a right ankle sprain while pitching in relief of a 19-inning game. He suffered a stress fracture of his right foot while running in the outfield May 13.
“Hopefully we’re getting some good news there, then he gets the boot off, then starts going in a positive direction where he can do some baseball activities, weight-bearing activities,” Melvin said.
Anderson is 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA so far this season.
— As impressive as the A’s sellout was Wednesday, it’s not a rarity. The A’s sold out two midweek home games against the Giants on May 27 and 28.