OAKLAND -- It may have been just one start, but veteran right-hander Mat Latos took one giant leap toward proving that he can regain the form that saw him rank as one of the NL's most consistent pitchers from 2010-14, firing six scoreless innings on Thursday in his first start with the White Sox to lead them to a 6-1 win against the A's in the finale of a four-game series.
Latos even flirted with a no-hitter until Chris Coghlan singled with one out in the fifth, a play that was immediately preceded by a foul fly ball down the left-field line that J.B. Shuck dropped after appearing to lose the ball in the high early-afternoon sun.
That sequence led to one of the A's only scoring chances of the game, after a walk to Marcus Semien gave them runners on first and second with two outs. Latos got out of it when Coco Crisp then lined a hard grounder up the middle that was snared by ex-Athletic Brett Lawrie, who got the force at second base to end the inning.
Latos then cruised through a 1-2-3 sixth, exiting with a 2-0 lead after Jose Abreu's two-run homer. The White Sox would tack on four more runs in the ninth to put the game away, and Latos earned the win. He allowed only Coghlan's hit, with a walk and two strikeouts.
Signed in the offseason for a relatively inexpensive $3 million, due to his up-and-down 2015, a healthy Latos could be a boon for Chicago, giving the club a good option at the back end of the rotation if he can return to form.
"I just wanna get back to my old self, I wanna put up zeros on the board and I wanna compete with these guys," said Latos, referring to his rotation mates. "I know we're on the same team, but it's still a competition. With pitchers, I think that's the way we have to go about it. We're always trying to out-do one another, and I think that'll take everybody to the next level."
Manager Robin Ventura had nothing but praise for his big right-hander.
"Just a really nice job, [with] all the lefties he was able to control the inside part of the plate with his fastball, and then the curveball, dropping it in there with that great arm action, he had a tilt on it. … Just a great job of him going out there and letting them hit it."
Latos will most likely get his next chance to turn the page on last season and show he's back to the old Mat next Thursday in Minnesota.