McCarthy dominates Tigers with 10 strikeouts

McCarthy dominates Tigers with 10 strikeouts

McCarthy dominates Tigers with 10 strikeouts
OAKLAND -- On a day the A's lost three players due to injuries, at least they were able to breathe a sigh of relief that their Opening Day starter seems to be fine.

Brandon McCarthy, who had his start pushed back as a precaution because of a shoulder issue, pitched seven scoreless innings in the A's 3-1 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night.

"He was spectacular," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's probably as good as I've seen him all year. Really good breaking ball, cutter, sinker to both sides. The breaking ball really helped him out today. He had a gap pitch that accentuated his fastball."

Although Melvin and McCarthy both said they were not terribly worried about the pitcher's shoulder, since he'd been fine in workouts the past couple days, it was nonetheless a relief for a team that had three other players get hurt on Saturday.

The A's placed cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand. Kila Ka'aihue was scratched from the lineup with a right hamstring injury. Jemile Weeks came out of the game in the fourth with a sprained left ankle.

Cespedes said he thinks he won't be out long, and Ka'aihue and Weeks were both listed as day-to-day.

The A's took comfort in the fact that they've played well enough to beat the powerful Tigers twice in a row, despite the injuries.

"We've responded very well," Weeks said. "I think the one thing I believed in from the beginning until now is anybody can be the guy on this team, any given day. It's not like one guy holds this team together. Anyone can do it."

The star on this night, though, was one of the players who was projected to be a leader when the A's handed him the ball on Opening Day in Japan.

McCarthy wasn't merely healthy, he was dominant. He mowed through the Detroit lineup, holding Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitless in six at-bats, with three strikeouts. McCarthy struck out 10, equaling his career high, and he did not walk a batter. He retired the last nine batters he faced.

"I felt like I was in command from the get go," McCarthy said. "I was able to stay in the game plan and execute. That's the highest percentage of pitches I've been able to execute all season."

Detroit's Brennan Boesch, who had two of the hits against McCarthy, said the A's right-hander was tough.

"I saw some guys that it looked like he was keeping them off-balance pretty well," Boesch said. "He's a lot like Doug [Fister]. He throws a sinker, cutter and overhand curveball. They're really long, lanky pitchers and similar styles out there, competing against each other."

McCarthy said the shoulder issue didn't worry him. Because he has had shoulder trouble for parts of the past five seasons, he was proactive in asking the A's for a few extra days at the first sign of a problem this time. With an off day, the A's were able to shuffle the rotation and give McCarthy a few extra days.

"It means a lot to me that they were able to give that to me, and I was able to hold up my end of the bargain," McCarthy said.

Melvin was slightly cautious with McCarthy, pulling him after just 91 pitches and seven innings.

"I was going to keep him below 100, regardless," Melvin said.

Besides, the A's had Ryan Cook ready for the eighth. Cook pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a run in 16 2/3 innings this year.

Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth, recording his second save of the season. After the game, Melvin said that Fuentes is now the A's closer, taking over for Grant Balfour, who had struggled of late.

Offensively, the A's didn't do much with Fister. Weeks led off the first with a single to center field. An out later, Josh Reddick singled into right. Jonny Gomes -- a late addition to the lineup when Ka'aihue was scratched -- then singled into left to drive in the run.

Fister shut down the A's for the rest of his outing, but the A's tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the seventh against Tigers lefty Phil Coke.

Eric Sogard started the rally with a bunt single. After a fielder's choice, Cliff Pennington drove in Collin Cowgill with a triple and Daric Barton drove in Pennington with a single.

Jeff Fletcher is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.