Improved command has Hahn hitting stride
OAKLAND -- Like clockwork, another A's pitcher turned in a quality start Wednesday, and against one of baseball's best offenses to boot.
Right-hander Jesse Hahn, though without his best stuff in the early going of a six-inning outing, allowed one run to the Rockies, who were held to just four total in the three-game series at the Coliseum, which culminated in a series-clinching 4-1 A's victory.
Through 81 games, Oakland is 36-45, having won 11 of its last 17 and, since May 23, 22 of 37.
"Obviously, we're not where we want to be through the first 81 games, but we're also not as far off as we could've been," A's catcher Stephen Vogt said. "You look at our first month and some of the one-run games -- take away a few of those and we're right in the mix. I think you got to feel pretty good considering where we were and the way we're playing right now, that we have 81 games to make up a lot of ground. I like the way we're clicking."
A's starters deserve a good chunk of credit. They own an American League-best 3.05 ERA -- including a 2.42 mark over the last 37 games.
Wednesday marked the 19th time over that stretch they held the opposition to one run.
"Coming in, you look at the numbers, Nolan Arenado in particular, and you're always trying to navigate around him, make him chase. They all get your attention," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We pitched well, all the starters, and that's what we have to do to beat a team like that, because we're not going to go toe-to-toe with them when it comes to scoring runs."
Arenado, who entered the series with a career-best 24 home runs, was held to two hits in the three-game stretch, spanning 12 at-bats. He was hitless in four at-bats Wednesday, three of which came against Hahn.
Vogt deemed the third inning Hahn's best, and it was Arenado who ended it.
After Rafael Ynoa reached second base on shortstop Marcus Semien's two-base error to lead off the frame, Hahn recorded back-to-back strikeouts and promptly induced a groundout from Arenado on just three pitches.
"He pitched his way out of it and didn't allow them to create anything," Vogt said. "That was probably the game right there, because early in the year, he's given up so many unearned runs, so to see him pitch out of that without any hesitation, it was almost like he wanted that situation."
Hahn was pitching without his slider for the first time this season, having decided not to throw it in a game again until he fine-tunes it.
The right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA over his last eight starts, numbers that support the overtime he's clocked remedying his fastball command.
"Some of the mistake pitches I was making earlier in the year, I eliminated those," he said. "I know I have to get the ball down and I have to hit my spots, which I know I wasn't doing that great of a job early on."
"Jesse was outstanding," Vogt said. "That's a great offense over there. Our pitchers showed up this series and did a great job and gave us a chance to win all three."