Barton homers twice, Cahill earns 18th win for A’s
On Friday night, he was just trying to accept there were no more starts to look forward to.
“It feels weird knowing I don’t really have to do anything the next few days,” Cahill said. “In my head I’m stuck still thinking (about) running, lifting, doing all that stuff tomorrow. It’s going to be weird coming here and not having to do any of that.”
Daric Barton(notes) homered in his first two at-bats, including a grand slam just inside the right-field foul pole, and Cahill pitched seven sharp innings for his 18th victory to lead the Oakland Athletics over the Seattle Mariners 9-0.
Cahill (18-8) finished the season with career bests in wins, innings, ERA and strikeouts. His 18 victories are tied for fourth-most in the American League and he lowered his ERA to 2.97.
Not bad for a pitcher who started the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
“The biggest thing I was able to finish healthy and stay strong,” Cahill said. “I think the numbers are a product of a lot of things, good defense, good run support. It makes it a lot easier for me.”
The numbers are pretty impressive. Cahill made just one start in April, spending most of the first month with Sacramento. Despite missing a few potential starts, Cahill is the first American League pitcher 22 or younger to win 18 or more games since Bret Saberhagen won 20 games as a 21-year-old for the 1985 Kansas City Royals.
His final outing was impressive.
Cahill threw 96 pitches through seven innings, mowing through Seattle’s meager lineup that featured a number of regulars. He struck out the side looking in the second inning, part of his six strikeouts on the night.
Cahill allowed five hits—all singles—walked two and only once, in the seventh, did Seattle get a runner to third base.
“I think I’ll still try and get better in the offseason, come in stronger, maybe a bit more refined, a year more experience under my belt,” Cahill said. “Hopefully they’ll pick me up and back me up just like they did this year.”
Seattle was handed its 99th loss and must win its final two games to avoid dropping 100 for the second time in three years. But with the defeat, the Mariners assured themselves of having the second overall pick in next June’s amateur draft.
Barton made sure of that early.
With just eight homers entering Friday, Barton jumped on a 3-2 pitch from French in the first, driving it deep into the right-field seats. An inning later, French had already allowed two runs to score and received a visit from pitching coach Carl Willis when Barton hit a 1-2 fastball for just the second grand slam of the season by the A’s.
Barton’s slam came after an RBI infield single by Cliff Pennington(notes) and a bases-loaded walk to Rajai Davis(notes). Barton added an RBI double to left-center in the sixth off reliever Chris Seddon(notes), finishing with six RBIs before leaving in the seventh with a sore leg.
“Considering my numbers with the bases loaded suck it feels really good,” said Barton, now 5 for 15 with the bases loaded this season. “I got a pitch up and put a good swing on it. Loved hitting one out.”
Mark Ellis(notes) added an RBI single in the fourth off French (5-7), who allowed eight hits and eight earned runs in four innings, the worst of his 13 starts for the Mariners. About the only positive offensively for the Mariners was first baseman Justin Smoak(notes) extending his hitting streak to eight games, the longest run of his young career.
“All I can say is it wasn’t my night. It’s going to happen. It’s not very fun, not the way you want to end the season,” French said.
NOTES: Seattle interim manager Daren Brown said RHP David Aardsma(notes) and 1B-DH Russell Branyan(notes) would not play in any of the final three games. Brown said it’s unlikely INF Jose Lopez(notes) would do anything more than pinch-run. … Ichiro Suzuki(notes) (player of the year), Felix Hernandez(notes) (pitcher of the year) and Jason Vargas(notes) (unsung player of the year) were honored by the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before the game. … Oakland needs wins in the final two games to avoid a fourth straight losing season.