Who needs CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, anyway? OK, well the Yankees do if they hope to go anywhere. But Hiroki Kuroda is holding things down quite nicely at the moment.
Kuroda was dominant this afternoon, allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings as part of a 4-0 win over the White Sox. He tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts while walking just one batter.
Kuroda got off to a bit of a shaky start in pinstripes, posting a 4.50 ERA through his first eight starts, but he has rebounded with a 1.99 ERA over his last eight and has allowed three runs or less in seven of them. The 36-year-old right-hander now has a solid 3.17 ERA and 80/31 K/BB ratio over 102 1/3 innings. Chatter that he couldn’t cut in the American League is but a distant memory.
The offense this afternoon was supplied by, you guessed it, the home run ball. Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Dewayne Wise all had solo shots. Wise also added an RBI double. Pretty interesting week for that guy, huh?
Kuroda’s performance overshadowed Jake Peavy, who tossed his fourth complete game of the season. Incredibly, he’s taken losses in three of them. Peavy struck out 11 for his first double-digit strikeout game since May 22, 2009 against the Cubs. While he has lost each of his last four starts, he still has an outstanding 2.96 ERA and 101/24 K/BB ratio over 112 2/3 innings this season. He’s an easy call to make the American League All-Star team.
UPDATE: Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com notes that Peavy will honor the memory of former Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds by donating $100 to pancreatic cancer research for every strikeout in MLB games today. There were 24 strikeouts in this game alone. Good on you, Jake.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?