In his first full season as a starting pitcher, Jesse Chavez has been a pleasant surprise for the Oakland Athletics.
Despite two very strong outings, he’s still without a victory due to a lack of run support and some poor work by his bullpen.
He’ll try again to break into the win column Monday night when the A’s open a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Angels.
Oakland (8-4) comes into the game on a roll, winning five of its first six games on this nine-game road trip and six of seven overall. On Sunday, a two-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth inning broke open a scoreless game in Seattle, leading to a 3-0 win.
Chavez (0-0, 1.38 ERA) will try to follow that up by throwing another gem in his first career start against the Angels.
After allowing one earned run over six innings against Seattle in his season debut, Chavez was even better Wednesday at Minnesota in the longest outing of his career. He limited the Twins to one run and six hits in seven innings while striking out a career-high nine and walking none. But Jim Johnson allowed a pair of ninth-inning runs before Oakland won 7-4 in 11 innings.
Chavez is not the only Oakland starter pitching well. The team’s rotation lowered its AL-best ERA to 1.95 after Scott Kazmir pitched two-hit ball over six innings Sunday.
Oakland pitchers closed the Seattle series with 17 scoreless innings and struck out 34 in the three games.
"It’s exciting to have guys follow up a quality start, one after another, one through five. It really is exciting,” Kazmir said. "We just want to keep going out there and keep making quality pitches and quality outings, all of us."
Chavez has a 7.56 ERA in eight appearances against the Angels, but has pitched five scoreless innings over the past three.
He’ll face a Los Angeles (6-6) offense that came alive Sunday, pounding out 17 hits – including five homers – in a 14-2 rout of the New York Mets. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, and the bottom three hitters in the batting order – Ian Stewart, Hank Conger and Erick Aybar – combined for seven RBIs.
"When you get results like that and eveybody’s rolling, it does seem contagious," Conger told the team’s official website. "We just wanted to see some good pitches and drive the ball (on Sunday)."
The Angels seek their fourth win in five games behind Hector Santiago (0-2, 7.71), who hasn’t been sharp in his first two starts – both against Seattle. The left-hander allowed four runs in each and lasted 4 1-3 innings with three walks in a 5-3 road loss Tuesday.
Santiago will want to be careful with Cespedes, who is 3 for 4 with a home run in their matchups.
Oakland has won 12 of its last 18 in Anaheim.