OAKLAND -- This is about A's pitcher Jarrod Parker. The Tigers stole his lunch money on Sunday and then threw him into the bushes. And Detroit beat Oakland 10-1.
Parker gave up eight earned runs in 3? innings, and his earned run average after three starts is a bloated 10.80. If you search for an adjective to describe his pitching so far, it would have to be @#$%^& — something X-rated like that.
But this column isn't really about Parker. It's about A's baseball in general. So, stick around. But first some words about Parker whose record last year, his rookie year, was a distinguished 13-8. Parker is a Billy-Beane find, one of those players you never heard of who really can play. The A's are built on Billy-Beane finds, and the A's are very good.
Except, Parker isn't very good right now. The first two Tigers he faced scored. He gave up four runs his first two innings, the Tigers crushing the ball and the A's outfielders running all over the place trying to catch missiles in the harsh afternoon light.
Afterward, A's manager Bob Melvin came to the interview room looking shell-shocked himself. The loud percussion of Tigers' long balls was hard on the ears. Naturally, the writers asked what's going on with Parker.
"It's puzzling," Melvin said. "We wanted him to attack the strike zone and he did. He got a little bit more of the plate than he wanted."
Melvin also said, "Today, he was trying to pound the zone early on with the fastball, and he was. After what we saw last year and what we've seen at times this year, it's puzzling when he gets hit because his stuff is so good."
I asked if Melvin will take Parker out of the rotation if things continue this way. Pay close attention to Melvin's words.
"At this point in time, he'll make his next start. You have to stick with guys for a bit, certainly. And again he was, at times last year, one of the better pitchers in the American League. Something's going on right now. We just need to work on it."
Notice all the conditionals, all the hedging in Melvin's word. "At this point in time" Parker will make his next start. That means, at some point in time, he may not.
"You have to stick with guys a bit." But you'd be nuts to stick too long with guys like Parker who walk twice as many as they strike out, and can't win a game on a winning club.
"It's puzzling." That means, there's something seriously wrong and no one knows what.
Cut to Parker who stood by his locker after the game, his face a lighter shade of green. "It was one of those days," he said. "I guess I made a couple of good pitches and they hit them, and I made a couple of bad pitches and they hit them. It's not something I can dwell on. I've got to move on, turn the page and continue working."