Acquired in December in the trade that sent left-hander Mark Mulder to St. Louis, Haren looked real good in his first action of the season, allowing one run and three hits over six innings in the A’s 5-1 win over Baltimore on Thursday.
A 24-year-old right-hander, Haren was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 14 games, including five starts, in three stints with the NL champion Cardinals last season. Those statistics pale in comparison to Mulder, who was 81-42 with a 3.90 ERA in five seasons with Oakland.
Yet when the A’s decided to break up The Big Three by sending Mulder to St. Louis and right-hander Tim Hudson to Atlanta, an opportunity was created for Haren. In his start against Baltimore, Haren shook off a first-inning leadoff homer to Brian Roberts and shut down a lineup that featured Sammy Sosa, Javy Lopez, Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro.
“He settled down and made some pitches, in that last inning in particular,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Toronto finds itself in first place in the AL East following its 10-3 win over Oakland on Monday. Frank Catalanotto had a two-run triple and a sacrifice fly and Eric Hinske had three hits and two RBIs for the Blue Jays, winners of three straight.
The Blue Jays began a nine-game road trip with another impressive victory, marking the second time in three games they scored at least 10 runs. They are 5-2 after going 7-15 in April last season—already having won their first two series of the year, including taking two of three from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox over the weekend.
This is the first time Oakland is not over .500 through seven games since starting 2-10 in 2001, when the A’s went on to win 101 games—second to Seattle’s 116 victories.