OAKLAND -- As ugly as the results may have been, Matt Shoemaker came out of his last start believing he wasn't far off from performing like the starting pitcher he wants to be. He was charged with six runs and recorded only nine outs against the Rangers, but he felt
OAKLAND -- As ugly as the results may have been, Matt Shoemaker came out of his last start believing he wasn't far off from performing like the starting pitcher he wants to be. He was charged with six runs and recorded only nine outs against the Rangers, but he felt his stuff was good and his location was sufficient, and that only a little bit of luck would've changed the complexion of his outing.
Then he took the mound at the Oakland Coliseum and got the type of results he had been searching for.
Thanks to excellent fastball command and a propensity for locating pitches low in the strike zone, Shoemaker kept the A's scoreless through six innings in Wednesday's series finale, a 5-1 win by the Angels. He gave up just one hit, three walks and struck out five.
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He got back to attacking hitters.
"That aggressive mentality is what I needed to see," Shoemaker said. "I knew it was there, but actually doing it, that was definitely good."
The Angels have been getting solid starting pitching ever since Shoemaker's rough debut five days earlier. It was followed by two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings from Garrett Richards, six innings of one-run ball by Jered Weaver, five scoreless innings from Nick Tropeano, 7 2/3 innings from Hector Santiago and an impressive start on Wednesday from Shoemaker, who finished last season 7-10 with a 4.46 ERA.
The second time through the order has been "like night and day" for the starting rotation, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. And so were the results of Shoemaker's first two starts.
The 29-year-old right-hander struggled in five starts against the A's last year with a 6.84 ERA and was hit around all spring, charged with 19 runs on 30 hits (nine of them homers) in 25 innings. With Tropeano capable of holding down a spot in the rotation, and Andrew Heaney enthusiastic about his recovery from a tight left forearm, and Tyler Skaggs and C.J. Wilson expected to join the team in the foreseeable future, Shoemaker needs starts like this to continue getting the ball every fifth day.
He continues to be held up to the standard of his phenomenal rookie season, when he won 16 games and finished with a 3.04 ERA, and Scioscia doesn't seem to believe it's unfair.
"The way he pitched in 2014 [is the way] he had pitched for his whole life," Scioscia said. "And he got a chance in the Major Leagues and executed his pitches and had an incredible season. Last year, he wasn't quite as crisp, had a little problem with his forearm strain. But if you look at the way he bounced back, pitched in Detroit late in the year, he has it in him, there's no doubt about it. This is more indicative of the way he can pitch."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.