O. CO COLISEUM — 1914. 100 years. A whole century.
That’s how long it’s been since any A’s pitcher did what starter Jesse Chavez did Sunday, complete his first four starts with one earned run or fewer.
The fourth came against the Houston Astros on Easter Sunday, as Chavez tossed six innings with six strikeouts in the A’s 4-1 victory to seal a series sweep.
The offense was led by third baseman Josh Donaldson and his three hits, his first of which was a two-run homer in the first inning.
Though Donaldson spearheaded the offensive attack, he didn’t want to say much about himself. Instead, he gave it up to Chavez:
“He did a great job. All season, he’s done a great job. … In spring training, when we lost (Jarrod) Parker and (A.J.) Griffin, I really believed he was going to have a good year. And so far it’s been good. He’s going to throw a lot of strikes and get a lot of ground balls.”
Oakland’s defense was close to top-flight all day long. From the first baserunner that catcher John Jaso has thrown out all year, which came as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve tried to steal third, to the nine baserunners Houston stranded.
On his outing, Chavez said:
“It was just one of those days where I had to make pitches and see what I was made of. … My mentality is ‘you just have to stay after it.’ … I look at it as one pitch at a time, and my mentality is to just keep the ball down. …. I just try to out-last their starter and give our team the best chance to win.”
Chavez has admirers everywhere on the team. The most important of whom is skipper Bob Melvin. In critiquing Chavez, Melvin said that Chavez struggled with his command and wasn’t as sharp as he normally is.
That’s saying a lot, considering Chavez allowed only four hits, even if he was facing the strugglin’ Stros. Melvin added:
“That’s real hard for a pitcher, when you don’t have your best stuff, and finding yourself, and you’re the biggest opponent. But then he’s still able to give us six innings like he did, with one run, was pretty fantastic.”
Though Chavez pitched a stupendous ballgame, a team still needs runs to win. And three of them were driven in by Donaldson, with a fourth being scored by shortstop Jed Lowrie on a passed ball. The two have been on a tear.
And at this rate, they might be the two best 2-3 hitter combo in the game. Melvin didn’t have much to say other than the two compliment each other nicely, but the proof is in the pudding.
Today, Lowrie scored twice, once from the Donaldson home run, and just before the passed ball, Donaldson doubled. The team is sixth in the AL in runs scored, fourth in on base percentage, in which Lowrie leads the team, Donaldson leading Oakland in hits and home runs.
That’s very, very potent. In fact, Lowrie and Donaldson are tied for fifth in the American League for runs scored.
That’s good, because for all the incredible snow-cone catches in right field, the A’s lead the majors in one category that no team wants to: errors, with a total of 20.
Two more errors came Sunday, ironically, on both Lowrie and Donaldson. That’s some backwards stuff right there.
Oakland led the American League in erroneous fielding entering Sunday’s series finale and are now tied with the Washington Nationals for defensive blunders.
Oakland will finish their homestand by hosting the division rival Texas Rangers (11-8) and then begin a 10-game road trip.