Considering the attrition to their pitching staff, it's somewhat of a surprise the Oakland Athletics are leading the American League in wins. But If Drew Pomeranz can pick up where he left off in his first start of the season, Oakland's success figures to be much more sustainable for the rest of the year.
The newest member of Oakland's rotation takes the hill Tuesday night as the Athletics host the Chicago White Sox.
The Athletics (24-15) extended their winning streak to a season-best five games Monday with a 5-4 victory in the opener. Oakland has excelled despite starters A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker being sidelined for the year due to Tommy John surgery, though the back end of the rotation has struggled at times, with Dan Straily optioned to Triple-A on Friday.
But the two-time defending AL West champion Athletics have become accustomed to strong starting pitching, with a 3.52 starters' ERA over the last two seasons that ranked second in the AL.
With a doubleheader last Wednesday against Seattle, the A's called on Pomeranz (2-1, 1.45 ERA) to start the nightcap after he had posted a 1.98 ERA in nine relief appearances.
Pomeranz - acquired in a trade from Colorado in December - earned just his second win in his last 20 starts, allowing two hits over five innings in a 2-0 victory. He had been 0-4 with a 7.06 ERA over his previous five starts.
Straily's demotion to Triple-A meant a spot in the rotation for Pomeranz, at least for now.
"(Pomeranz) has pitched his way into this role," manager Bob Melvin told the team's website. "It's difficult to be that long guy, too, when you're not getting regular work. But each and every time we've called on him, he's done a good job for us, and certainly in a starting role, as we saw (Wednesday)."
Jose Abreu's major league-leading 14th homer was the first in a three-run ninth in Chicago's (19-21) failed late rally Monday.
"We don't ever think we're out of it," said Adam Dunn, who was hitless for the fourth straight game but walked twice. "We have an offense where we have proven that it doesn't matter what the score is. For the most part, late in games we bear down and have good at-bats and we usually make it pretty interesting."
Dayan Viciedo also homered in the second inning. Five of the White Sox's eight runs during a three-game skid have come on homers. They totaled 27 runs and 50 hits while winning three of their previous four.
Rookie Scott Carroll (1-2, 3.63) will try to rebound from a rough game in Wednesday's 12-5 loss to the Cubs. He was tagged for six runs and 11 hits over four innings after allowing one earned run over 13 1-3 innings in his first two big league starts.
"It was just a situation where I didn't have my best stuff tonight," Carroll said. "I left a few pitches up when I obviously didn't have the ability to do so. Kind of just fighting it the whole time."
Gordon Beckham doubled Monday, extending his hitting streak to eight games.
Coco Crisp sat out his fifth straight game with a strained neck and is considered day to day.
Monday's victory marked the Athletics' sixth straight against the White Sox in Oakland, where they're 40-15 in the series since 2001.