The A's almost threw a no-hitter Saturday night. One night after allowing just two hits, the A's gave up only one, a deep drive by Richie Sexson to center that fell out of Mark Kotsay's glove on a difficult, but catchable ball.
That pitch by Barry Zito was Zito's second hanging changeup of the game. After that, Zito pretty much abandoned his changeup for the evening, as he had several other pitches that were working just fine. Unlike the season opener, Zito had very good control of his fastball, decent control of his curveball, and an outstanding slider.
Zito kept the slider in his back pocket, and pulled it out only when he really needed it. With Richie Sexson on third and nobody out, he used it to strike out both Adrian Beltre and Carl Everett, to keep the Mariners from scoring. Later, whenever he fell behind in the count, he would pull out the slider to return the count to his favor, where he would get people out with his fastball or his curve.
Of course, these were the Mariners and not the Yankees, and the M's probably chased a lot more pitches out of the strike zone than the Yankees would have. But nonetheless, Zito was clearly much better in his second game than his first. It's a both a victory, and a sign of good things to come.
Kiko Calero, Joe Kennedy, and Huston Street pitched no-hit ball for the final three innings to close out the 3-0 victory. Next up: to see if Rich Harden can keep the excellent pitching going on Sunday afternoon.