A’s, Surkamp outdueled by dominant Weaver

In an unlikely pitcher’s duel, Jered Weaver outperformed Eric Surkamp leading the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to a 2-0 win over the Oakland Athletics Sunday afternoon.

Surkamp enjoyed his best start as a member of the A’s (28-41), lasting 6 innings and allowing just two runs. Weaver was just a bit better, tossing a complete-game, three-hit shutout to deny the Oakland lefty his first win of the year.

The Angels (31-38) capitalized on one of just two rallies, pushing a run across in the first before stranding a pair in the third. Oakland, on the other hand, was held without a single real threat.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Following the shutout, Oakland Manager Bob Melvin expressed frustration with his offense:

“Certainly some credit to the way (Weaver) pitched, but I thought our at-bats were consistently disappointing.”

The two starters came into the afternoon tilt allowing a combined 13.78 earned runs per nine innings. In 15 innings on Sunday, however, they held the two offenses to just nine hits and two runs.

The inefficiency of Surkamp (L, 0-5, 7.20 ERA) was his undoing, needing 102 pitches (66 strikes) to record 18 outs though he gave up solid contact just once.

Melvin said he was happy with the performance of his starter:

“That’s the best he’s pitched for us, (and) we needed it … He gave us what we needed today.”

The Halo hurler tantalized the Oakland bats, using a fastball that topped out at 85 MPH — hovering around 82 much of the afternoon — and a curveball that fluttered to the plate in the high 60s. Entering the game with a career 2.73 ERA against the A’s, Weaver (W, 6-6, 5.10 ERA) and his team were likely expecting the dominance they got from the former ace on getaway day.

The Angels gave the towering righty a run early. After Yunel Escobar grounded the first pitch of the game off the glove of a pulled in Danny Valencia at third, Surkamp walked two-hole hitter Kole Calhoun.

Two batters later, a topper from clean-up man Albert Pujols was hit too slowly for a deep-positioned Marcus Semien to turn an inning-ending double play. As Pujols was called safe at first, Escobar crossed the plate with what was the eventual winning run.

In the fifth, Carlos Perez smacked Surkamp and the A’s with an insurance run on a homer to left.

Despite taking another loss, Surkamp said he was happy with his individual performance:

“I just tried to go out there and not think about anything mechanically.  Just tried to throw everything with conviction. That’s kind of the theme that (pitching coach) Curt (Young) preached to me all week.”

Catcher, Stephen Vogt agreed with the starter having his best conviction, adding that he also had his best command:

“He threw a lot of good fastball. Going back and forth. Spotting them up. Changing eye levels. Stayed out of the middle of the play. Threw some good curveballs as well.”

A befuddled Oakland offense was held to just three hits — two of which came off the bat of Billy Butler — while drawing a single walk. in truly dominant fashion Weaver did not allow a single A’s base runner to reach second base. The veteran needed just 95 pitches (62 strikes) to put the finishing touches on the overwhelming, yet under-powering, performance.

The fact that Weaver’s velocity was well below the normal hitting speed should not have affected the bats, according to the skipper:

“We know how hard he is throwing, so it’s up to us to understand that. Once you’ve faced him once or twice you know exactly how hard he’s throwing… at some point in time we should be on to (the velocity).”

Vogt said that his team’s offensive performance was “frustrating”:

“We didn’t make him work today. He was very, very good, but we didn’t help matters… He’s the kind of guy that feeds off of aggression. With a guy like him, every pitch looks like you can hammer it. That’s just not the case”

The A’s Monday will enjoy their final day off prior to the All-Star Break.

When they return to action on Tuesday Melvin’s gang will host the Milwaukee Brewers (31-38) in a short two-game set, with aces Sonny Gray (3-6, 5.54 ERA) and Jimmy Nelson (5-6, 3.92 ERA) scheduled to do battle.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.