The most impressive scene came in the top of the eighth. Parker found himself with runners on the corners, after yet another fielding miscue on his part had set the stage. The 24-year-old right-hander then proceeded to work straight out of it, as he went strikeout, pop out, strikeout.
It was exactly the kind of performance that the team needed in the moment and exactly what has come to be expected of the pitcher who has quietly asserted himself as the staff ace.
Since dropping four of his first five starts, Parker has been filthy. After tallying his first win of the season on the final day of April, Parker has reeled off a 9-2 record. In his last 15 starts, Parker is 7-0 and he last lost on May 22 when the Athletics were downed by the Texas Rangers 3-1. In that outing, Parker served up all three runs on a single home run.
Parker has picked up the win in three of his past four starts, and over that stretch he has allowed only seven runs. Somewhat surprisingly, the Athletics are just 13-12 in games in which Parker takes the mound this season. As was the case on Monday night, though, Parker seems to rise to the top of this game when he’s most needed. So far in 2013 he has held opposing cleanup hitters to a .186 (13-for-70) average.
With Bartolo Colon and Brett Anderson mending, and Sonny Gray rising, there are a lot of moving pieces on this Oakland staff. There’s also been a seemingly unresolved question over who will step up to become the number one starter. If Parker continues the run he’s on, that question might have just been answered.