OAKLAND — When Homer Bailey gave up nine earned runs in two innings last week in Houston, all he had was straight stuff.
Without his slider and splitter, the Astros were able to tee off, tallying eight hits in 18 plate appearances.
Saturday, the Oakland Athletics’ newest starter scattered seven hits across 6 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers, holding them to three runs and striking out seven in a 5-4 win in his second quality start in three appearances for the A’s.
“I thought he was really good,” said manager Bob Melvin. “His first game, I thought he started out a little slow and got better. Obviously, the next game wasn’t great, but I thought this was the type of guy, the stuff today, was the guy we were looking for.”
Bailey threw 13 sliders out of his 105 pitches, getting one swinging strike and four called strikes, keeping Texas hitters off balance. After loading the bases with two outs in the top of the second, Bailey was able to use his slider up for strike one, then changed eye levels with a slider down before going back to his mid-90s fastball up in the zone to strike out Jeff Mathis.
“We were able to mix speeds,” Bailey said. “When you’ve had those bad ones like [Houston], and unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of them, you learn how to turn the page, and we kind of had a little bit of a skid, losing yesterday, so really wanted to go out and do well for these guys and pick up that win.”
The 6-mph differential between the fastball and the slider allowed him to spot his fastball on both sides of the plate and change eye level with his splitter. Bailey got nine swinging strikes on his mid-90s fastball and 11 called strikes, with 15 foul balls.
Bailey also threw 26 splitters, getting four swinging strikes, one called strike and five fouls. Of the seven balls put in play against the splitter, he got two groundouts, one pop out and one fly ball, while allowing a fly ball single, a groundball single and a triple. For Bailey, whose been a flyball pitcher for his entire career, it was a welcome revelation.
The one splitter that went for extra bases — a Danny Santana two-out triple in the seventh, which chased Bailey — didn’t quite get down in the zone, but overall, Bailey was exactly the type of pitcher Oakland will need down the stretch.
“Other than that, he was absolutely fantastic,” Melvin said.