Chavez shows off stamina with stellar 8 frames
After battling fatigue last season, righty allows just two hits in lengthy start vs. Dodgers
OAKLAND -- The dog days of an already lost season have not treated the A's too kindly. And while the bright spots have proven fleeting, Jesse Chavez is on a mission to be a consistent one.
The right-hander dazzled in a 5-2 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday, helping the A's recover from an 0-7 road trip with a two-game sweep of one of baseball's best clubs by allowing just two hits across eight innings, matching a career high.
"He was extremely competitive and battling all day long," catcher Josh Phegley said. "I think he was disappointed with his cutter today, his bread and butter, but he used all of his other pitches. He doesn't just live and die by the cutter, and he was getting guys to chase the curveball. His changeup was really effective today, and he just kept them off balance."
Chavez was tagged for a two-run homer off the bat of Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the third, but he didn't give up another hit until Kiké Hernandez's two-out double in the eighth. Chavez closed out the frame with his sixth strikeout of the day, getting Rollins to swing through a curveball.
Chavez, having just thrown his career-high 116th pitch of the day, responded with a fist pump.
"The fact that it was a big pitch in a big situation, I wanted to keep the ball down, I did, and to see him swing and miss was a good feeling," Chavez said.
A's manager Bob Melvin called it a "very" easy decision to send his starter back out for the eighth, even though he was sitting at 101 pitches -- nine away from his previous career high.
"I just wanted to make sure he was OK," Melvin said. "Last time I took him out, he wanted to go out there for one more inning, I told him, 'Look, we'll save it for an inning when we need you a little bit more so.' Certain times you want to make sure he's ready for that time when you really need him, and he was today."
It marked the third time this season Chavez has made it through eight innings. That he was able to do it in the middle of August demonstrates his improved stamina.
At this time last year, Chavez was toiling in the bullpen after midseason fatigue forced him out of the rotation. His 146 innings last season -- covering 32 games, 21 of them starts -- more than doubled his previous high (67 1/3 in 2009).
After Wednesday, Chavez already has 139 1/3 innings to his name, a reflection of the conscious work he put in during a strenuous offseason in which he added more weight training to his workouts and more calories to his meals.
"The work that I put in will lead to results, and that's what I want to show, that I'm still working to get through this season, and a full season at that," Chavez said. "I want to build off this."
"He really wants to get in a good, full season where he doesn't wear down," Melvin said. "He's very aware of what's happened in the past, certainly last year, so he's doing everything he can to combat that."