Oakland’s rotation looks pretty darned good. And that might be an understatement.
Drew Pomeranz, fifth in the A’s rotation, allowed only one hit in his first six innings Friday night, a feat already bested by Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. Pomeranz gave up a second hit in the seventh inning, leading Oakland to a 11-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The 26-year-old southpaw arrived in Oakland from Colorado in 2014, and remained without much of a role during that year. He’s hoping he can position himself as one of the best options in baseball for 2015.
If you’re just tuning into baseball: That’s good. If you’re a longtime fan, you understand just how incredible that is.
Manager Bob Melvin said:
“There are a lot of things that I wouldn’t have projected at this point. … To an extent, you expect it out of Gray and Kazmir, those are the guys we’re really going to lean on this year. To have Pomeranz throw as well as he did, to go seven innings and do it against that club are bonus points.”
Pomeranz pounded the zone and no Seattle runners were able to safely plant their feet on second base until the eighth inning, when Fernando Abad took over after 92 pitches and six strikeouts.
It certainly didn’t hurt to have some early run support.
The young Mark Canha continued his run of superior hitting, singling in the first before being driven home by Ben Zobrist. Canha would smash his first career homer in the second, finishing 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Pomeranz had praise for Canha:
“He’s the best hitter ever, isn’t he? He’s hitting everything. He’s probably the guy that no one wants to face right now in the big leagues. He hits everything you throw up there. I mean, even when he gets outs, he gets hard outs.”
The A’s scored three runs in the first, and had 11 across by the end of the fourth inning.
Taijuan Walker was taken out during the fourth, but was charged with nine earned and the loss, striking out three while walking two and giving up nine hits.
For his efforts, Pomeranz was the first recipient of a helmet that former 49ers and current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh dropped by as a pseudo game ball.
It’s a well deserved token, since Pomeranz took a liner off his hand during one of the final plays of his night. He said:
“It scared the shit out of me, to be honest. Because it’s right where I broke it.”
Pomeranz recovered nicely and tossed out the lead runner at second base, though there was no play at first and the Mariners got their second and last hit off Oakland’s starter.
What’s going to keep the A’s above water through some less than stellar outings in the future, though, are runs. Something that have come in droves this week, or not at all.
When they do come, you better believe Canha’s involved.
He sat out the first two games of the season, getting his first look in a right-hander heavy lineup to counter Texas lefty Ross Detwiler.
He knocked in four runs that night, going 3-for-5. He’s quickly becoming a clubhouse favorite, though remains grounded in his approach. Canha said:
“I mean, it’s three games. It’s a long season. And I’m going to come to the park each day and try and replicate swings. It all starts with preparation. I feel like the better prepared I am, the more confident I am when I get in there.”
Melvin, though, wouldn’t refrain from throwing a few words of encouragement his way:
“It’s pretty unbelievable. For a number of reasons, one, he’s never played in the big leagues before. A Rule 5 guy that has to work his way on to the team. Had a great spring and, being at home here his first few games is pretty special for him. But he’s earned his time.”
It’s one of the few times where Melvin has gushed praise in a player’s direction, and though the sample is small, it’s tough to deny the power of Canha’s bat. Like a liner to third, caught, but not before it almost tears a hole through the leather webbing, leaving smoldering hide in its wake.
And his first home run wasn’t unlike any of his other hits, a no-doubt blast that might leave a vapor trail if it weren’t so cold in Oakland.
Well, maybe there is something a little different. Canha said:
“It felt really good. It’s always good to get the first one off your back each season. You’re kind of waiting for that first one to come.”
While it was his first big league homer, Canha hit 20 in AAA during the 2014 season, and 13 during his 2013 AA campaign.
His current pace seems unsustainable, but for a guy who couldn’t crack a 40-man roster one season ago, the smile on his face is well-earned.
And so was the ball he hit over the right field fence, which a fan brought back to him later in the game.
It’s early, and there’s a lot of ball left, but the mark that Canha has left on the month of April is impossible to deny. His game is helping bring together a clubhouse that, for the most part, had no idea who their locker-mate was one year ago.
He’ll get another shot, with Sonny Gray the starter, Saturday afternoon versus the Mariners.