Tuesday was a day for strong starting pitching performances throughout the Oakland A's system. The…
D-Day For Loaiza, A's
Loaiza retired just three of the 13 batters he faced Saturday, walked six, gave up four hits and five runs, and struck out none. The stats won't count, however, because the game was postponed by rain.
It was a break for the A's since Loaiza has consistently put the bullpen in jeopardy with early exits. Once again, his velocity was down. He hit 81-86 mph all night, mostly at 83.
"My mind is there, it's just my velocity," Esteban Loaiza said. "I don't know where my velocity is at."
Loaiza insisted his arm is fine. He's dumbfounded at what's wrong with him, adding this is the first time in 16 years of pro ball he's gone through this.
"I really don't know what's going on," Loaiza said. "I never thought it would be this bad."
The A's are already down one starter with Rich Harden on the DL for at least three weeks. Lefty Brad Halsey is expected to take Harden's place, at least initially. Chad Gaudin, Kirk Saarloos, Randy Keisler and Juan Dominguez could be candidates to take Loaiza's place in the rotation. Dominguez has been struggling, however, and Saarloos has not been stretch out as a starter this season, working one or two innings out of the bullpen at a time.
Keisler has been outstanding in AAA, but adding him would give the A's three finesse leftise in their rotation. Keisler is also not on the 40-man roster. Gaudin is already on the A's 25-man roster and he was pitching really well out of the rotation in Sacramento before being recalled to Oakland last week. He has traditionally had more success as a reliever than a starter as a major leaguer, but he does have major league starting experience. Prospects Dan Meyer and Shane Komine probably need more seasoning at AAA before being called to the major leagues.
If Gaudin is moved from the A's bullpen to the rotation, Oakland may turn to Santiago Casilla (formerly Jairo Garcia) or Matt Roney to take Gaudin's spot in the bullpen. Both right-handers are on the 40-man roster and have some major league experience.
Eric Chavez (two-run homer in the first) and Nick Swisher (three-run shot in the second inning) continued to carry the A's offense with big blows to provide an early 5-1 lead at Kansas City.
After the Royals tied the score at 5 in the fifth, the A's scored six in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run double by Mark Kotsay and a three-base error off Royals center fielder (and former A's second base prospect) Esteban German's head that scored two more and broke the game open. Oakland went on to post a 13-6 win.
--OF/1B Nick Swisher hit his 10th home run in April, the most for the A's since Mark McGwire hit a team-record 11 in April 1997. Swisher drove in four runs Sunday, giving him 24 in the month. He hit 21 homers as a rookie in 2005.
--LHP Barry Zito laughed when told there was a story in The Onion that he demanded a trade to a world with no war. Zito thought it was pretty funny, although he'd never previously heard of the well-known satirical newspaper/Web site, which began in Madison, Wisconsin, but is now distributed in a number of major cities in the US, including San Francisco, where Zito lives.
--RHP Joe Blanton walked a career-high five batters and threw 118 pitches in five innings. Three of the walks scored, but Blanton recorded the victory as the A's offense had its first breakthrough outing in weeks.
--RF Milton Bradley continues to be slowed by a strained right knee, and he also felt some pain in his hip in the cage Saturday, so he didn't play again Sunday. He hasn't played since Tuesday night. The A's have essentially been playing two-men short with both Bradley and Huston Street out with injuries but not on the DL.
--OF Jay Payton, who has played every game with RF Milton Bradley out, came into Sunday's game in a 6-for-40 skid. He delivered three singles and scored twice in the A's rout. He has yet to homer this season after hitting 13 in less than half a season with Oakland last year.
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