The Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks may not garner
the biggest daily national headlines, but Gio Gonzalez and Ian
Kennedy are each quietly putting together impressive campaigns with
their respective teams.
Coming off perhaps his best outing of the year, Gonzalez takes
the mound for Oakland in Sunday’s series finale hoping to continue
his stellar stretch while Arizona’s Kennedy looks to stay
undefeated on the road.
The Diamondbacks (45-39), who entered Saturday losers of five of
six, defeated the Athletics 4-2 behind seven strong innings from
Joe Saunders and an offensive explosion from Chris Young, who drove
in all four runs and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
“His (batting practice) has been better and we’ve just been
waiting to see it come out of the sessions in the cage,” manager
Kirk Gibson said of Young. “He’s just learned to slow it down, let
the ball come to him and use his quick hands. He’s not a big guy
… but he’s very powerful.”
Young, a career .243 hitter, is 12 for 29 with three homers
lifetime against Oakland and is batting .290 versus AL opponents
this season. He could be hard-pressed for more success Sunday given
the way Gonzalez (7-5, 2.38 ERA) has performed of late.
Over his last three starts spanning 21 innings, Gonzalez has
gone 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA while striking out 27 – his career-best
strikeout total for a three-game span.
The left-hander limited Florida to one hit and three walks over
a career high-tying eight innings of Tuesday’s 1-0 victory,
lowering his ERA to 0.78 in his last five interleague outings.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him pitch and that’s right up there
with the best-pitched game for us since I’ve been here,” Arizona
interim manager Bob Melvin said.
Kennedy (8-2, 3.01), meanwhile, is 2-0 with 31 strikeouts in 30
innings over his last four starts. The right-hander, however,
wasn’t his sharpest during Monday’s 5-4 loss to Cleveland, yielding
four runs and eight hits over eight innings.
Kennedy, who will take his second shot at matching a career high
with his ninth win, is likely looking forward to getting back on
the road, where he is 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA in seven outings. He is
the only major leaguer with at least 40 innings pitched on the road
in 2011 who has yet to lose there.
Kennedy, 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA against the AL this season, could
have an advantage Sunday against a team that hasn’t seen much of
David DeJesus, 0 for 3 lifetime against Kennedy, is the only
active A’s player to have faced the emerging Diamondbacks ace.
DeJesus is mired in a 5-for-34 slump (.147) over his last 13
Oakland (37-47) is batting .218 and has averaged just two runs
while losing seven of 10. The A’s outhit Arizona on Saturday but
went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“They just did more with their hits than we did with ours,”
Melvin said. “We weren’t able to take advantage of our scoring
Oakland would surely welcome Josh Willingham (Achilles’ strain)
and his team-leading 10 homers back to the lineup, but while he’s
eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, there is no
timetable for his return.