OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Bobby Crosby has become a viable rookie of the year candidate in a matter of a month.
Crosby, batting .327 with seven homers and 20 RBIs over his last 44 games and leading numerous rookie offensive categories, singled to the corner in left against Francisco Rodriguez to save Mulder (10-2), whose current win streak is a career-best.
Rodriguez put his face into his glove and yelled as he walked off the mound, then tossed his mitt hard into the ground as he reached the top of the dugout steps. He followed that by smacking the bench with the palm of his hand when he sat down.
Crosby has made huge strides recently. Two months ago, he said, he would have missed the slider Rodriguez threw to him.
On May 8, the 24-year-old shortstop dropped a soft fly to shallow left field in the 10th inning against Minnesota, costing the A’s the game. He also grounded into a double play and finished the day batting .183.
“It’s been up and down,” said Crosby, notoriously a slow starter at the plate. “At this point, the highs are starting to outweigh the lows. … After the first month and a half, I knew I had been through it before. There’s a point where panic sets in, but at the same time I knew I would come around.”
Then on May 22, he hit a game-winning infield single in the 11th inning of a win over the Royals.
“His progress since the beginning of the year has been tremendous,” manager Ken Macha said. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Justin Lehr pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Octavio Dotel worked a perfect ninth for his first save in two opportunities with his new team. He was acquired last Thursday from Houston in a three-team trade, then blew a save in his A’s debut Saturday before coming back to earn the victory.
“I’m that kind of guy when I’m not doing good I want to get back out there the next day,” Dotel said. “It’s real nice.”
Oakland loaded the bases against Brendan Donnelly (1-1) in the seventh after Mark McLemore’s one-out double, a walk to Scott Hatteberg and a single by Jermaine Dye. Rodriguez relieved and got Erubiel Durazo to strike out before Crosby’s big hit.
Mulder, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter in a 2-1 win over the Angels last Thursday, is unbeaten in 11 starts since April 28 loss at Yankee Stadium. He allowed nine hits and four runs, struck out eight and walked three in seven innings—barely outpitching Angels starter Kelvim Escobar.
“I’m proud of the way I pitched tonight,” Mulder said. “I didn’t have my best stuff and I kept the team in it.”
It was a duel between two pitchers whose managers both believe their guy is worthy of playing in next month’s All-Star game in Houston.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Escobar has been the club’s best starter recently and would be a strong candidate for the All-Star game if he had more run support and a better record.
The right-hander lost to the A’s 7-1 last Wednesday, allowing six hits and three earned runs in six innings. He hasn’t won since beating Cleveland 5-2 on June 3. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits in six innings, struck out five and walked four.
“We had the upper hand against a pretty good pitcher tonight, but we just couldn’t close the door,” Scioscia said.
Tim Salmon gave the Angels a 4-3 lead in the sixth on an RBI fielder’s choice.
The teams split a four-game series in Anaheim last week. The Angels swept a three-game series here April 23-25 and lead the season series between the division rivals 6-5.
The A’s took a 3-1 lead in the second on four hits, including Kotsay’s two-run single to center. Anaheim tied it at 3 in the fourth on consecutive two-out RBI hits by Garret Anderson and Guillen.
In the fifth, Guillen threw out Kotsay at home from left field to keep the A’s from going ahead.
Both teams are struggling with injuries. The A’s have five players on thedisabled list, while the Angels have three.
The teams, considered the front-runners to win the division, don’t playagain until Sept. 24-26.
Guillen is batting .600 (6-for-10) lifetime against Mulder. … Oakland’s Eric Byrnes broke an 0-for-16 drought with a sixth-inning double. … Kotsay extended his hitting streak to eight games with a second-inning single. … A’s RHP Rich Harden will miss his Thursday start after partially dislocating his non-throwing shoulder Saturday. … Mulder won seven straightthree times previously.