(Sports Network) – Starting pitching has been the key to Oakland’s current six-game winning streak and even a bout with the flu wasn’t able to slow down Gio Gonzalez over this run.
The Athletics have to be excited about the chance a healthy Gonzalez gives them tonight as they go for a series victory against the New York Mets in the middle portion of a three-game set at Citi Field.
Oakland’s starters are 5-0 with a 1.17 earned run average over the club’s current win streak, its longest since a seven-game run from Sept. 14-20, 2009. Josh Outman extended the burst last night, yielding just one earned run over six innings for the Athletics, whose winning streak follows a stretch where they lost 13 of 14 and fired manager Bob Geren and replaced him with Bob Melvin.
During Oakland’s 1-13 stretch, the starters went 0-11 with a 7.30 ERA.
Conversely, starter Dillon Gee contributed mightily to the Mets downfall last night. He walked a career-high six batters to suffer his first loss of the season (7-1) and become Oakland’s latest victim as it looks to get back into the race in the American League West.
“We think some things are going to start going our way and they have,” Outman said. “We’re getting some hits falling here and there we weren’t getting before. I think Gee threw a better game than he got credit for. It’s nice to come out and beat a guy who has had a great season thus far.”
Gee lasted just four innings and was charged with four runs on only three hits. He threw just 42 of his 87 pitches for strikes as the Mets lost for the fourth time in five games.
“That’s certainly not the guy we know,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “This is a game of adjustments. You have to adjust every day, every night, every inning, and I don’t think we made any adjustments tonight. The sinker wasn’t working, it was off the plate, whatever it was. You have to adjust. If that means you have to throw it down the middle, then you have to throw it down the middle.”
Ryan Sweeney had four hits, including an RBI single, Conor Jackson drove in two runs and rookie Jemile Weeks scored three times. Weeks is hitting .362 through is first 13 big-league games and Oakland now has a decision to make with Mark Ellis expected to return from the disabled list today.
Ellis hasn’t played since June 6 due to a right hamstring strain and is hitting just .211 on the season, but is a nine-year veteran, all with Oakland.
“It’s a great problem to have because we have two really good players,” Melvin told Oakland’s website. “One’s an up-and-coming, high-profile prospect, and then there’s a guy that’s meant as much to this organization as anybody in the last 10 years. It will be nice to have them both on the team, but it will be a difficult proposition either way.”
One easy decision for Melvin is to start Gonzalez, who snapped a three-start slide with his first win since May 17 on Thursday despite pitching sick, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. After walking seven in his previous outing, the 25-year-old lefty also fanned 10 to reach double-digit strikeouts for the third time in his career over a gutsy performance.
“I wasn’t feeling too good. I was under the weather,” he admitted. “I was battling a lot, but with the help of all our position players, I did my best to keep us in the game as long as possible.”
Gonzalez, who faces the Mets for the first time, improved to 6-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 14 starts this season.
Getting the start for the Mets will be R.A. Dickey, who turned in a forgettable outing on Thursday in Atlanta. The right-handed knuckleballer was charged with six runs — four earned — on six hits and three walks, but was taken off the hook in a 9-8 loss in extra innings.
Dickey is 3-7 with a 4.00 ERA in 15 games this season, and just 1-5 with a 4.69 ERA in seven at home. The 36-year-old is 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA in his career when facing the A’s.
Dickey isn’t alone in his struggles at home as last night’s setback was New York’s 10th in its past 18 games at Citi Field, where it is just 16-20 this season.
With Jose Reyes failing to notch a hit for just the fourth time this month, Jason Bay keyed the offense with a homer, triple and two RBI.
New York had won four straight over Oakland, including a three-game sweep at Shea Stadium in 2007. The A’s picked up their first victory in Queens since Game 3 of the 1973 World Series at Shea Stadium.