Stats & Info: Cliff Pennington

Perez's changeup poses challenge for A's

September, 26, 2012
The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers take the field Wednesday (ESPN, 8 ET) for their third of seven meetings over the season’s final 10 days with both teams chasing a playoff berth.

The Athletics have gotten almost half of their wins this season – 43 of 87 – from rookie pitchers. The last team to get at least half its wins from rookies was the A’s in 2009 (44 of 75). The last to do so while posting a winning record was the 1986 Rangers (46 of 87).

The Athletics youth movement extends to their lineup, which is led by rookie Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, who is playing his first full season in the majors.

Cespedes and Reddick are the first pair of Oakland outfielders to hit 20 home runs in the same season since Eric Byrnes and Jermaine Dye in 2004.

Strong rookie campaign for Cespedes
If it weren’t for Los Angeles Angels phenom Mike Trout, Cespedes could have been in line to win Rookie of the Year. He ranks in the top three among major league rookies in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, runs batted in and on-base percentage.

Cespedes is one of the American League’s best hitters on the first pitch of an at-bat. He’s hitting .434 on such pitches, the sixth best average in the AL. The early swings limit his power, as only two of his 21 homers have come on the first pitch.

Reddick cools in second half
Reddick helped carry the team before the All-Star Break, but has slowed down in the second half. He is hitless in his last 27 at-bats and was not in the A’s starting lineup on Tuesday.

Amazingly, his 0-for-27 streak isn’t the worst stretch for an Oakland hitter this season. Derek Norris went 30 at-bats without a hit in July and Cliff Pennington had an 0-for-29 stretch from May to June.

Reddick’s average since the break is 57 points lower than the first half of the season and his home run rate has been cut in half. As shown on the chart to the right, he is swinging more often but making contact less frequently.

Perez’s changeup could foil A’s
The A’s will be facing rookie southpaw Martin Perez, whose first major-league start was against Oakland in June. In that game, he allowed two runs in 5⅓ innings to earn the win.

Perez had more success with his changeup than his fastball in that game. Oakland hitters were 4-for-12 with three extra-base hits against his fastball and 2-for-9 with four strikeouts against his changeup.

The success with his slower pitches has continued since that start. Hitters miss on 28 percent of their swings against Perez’s offspeed pitches, and 21 percent of at-bats that end with an offspeed pitch against him result in a strikeout.

Several A’s hitters have struggled against changeups this season. Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Pennington all hit below .200 while striking out at least 20 percent of the time against the pitch.

Oakland hitters have struck out 1,322 times this season, just two shy of the American League record. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays struck out 1,324 times in 2007.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kevin Slowey had a no-hitter through seven innings Sunday against the Oakland Athletics and was removed from the game after throwing 106 pitches. The Twins were up 1-0 when Slowey left the field and scored three runs in their half of the seventh inning. Reliever Jon Rauch came on in the eighth to strike out Chris Carter before losing the no-hitter, allowing a double to 9-hitter Cliff Pennington.

Had Slowey finished the job, it would have been the first Twins no-hitter since September 11, 1999, when Eric Milton beat the Angels. If Rauch and the bullpen had finished it off, it would have been the first combined no-hitter since six Houston Astros pitchers shut down the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003.

The last pitcher removed from a no-hitter, having thrown at least seven innings, was Damian Moss in 2002 for the Braves in St. Louis (Moss threw 116 pitches).

The last AL pitcher removed after seven no-hit innings was David Cone for the Yankees in Oakland on September 2, 1996 (Cone's 1st start back from injury).

As a result, the A's still have the longest drought of any AL team without being no-hit. Oakland has gone 19 full seasons without being no-hit, and Nolan Ryan was the last to do it, on June 11, 1990.

1st pitch: Guess who leads the team

April, 19, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Joe Mauer turns 27 today. Who is the only player younger than Mauer who has more career hits?

Quick Hits: Early on, there are some interesting names who currently reside as team statistical leaders:

* After closing out Saturday’s marathon, Mike Pelfrey now leads the Mets in wins (two) and saves (one).

* David Ortiz only has six hits on the season, but with five doubles, he leads the Red Sox.

* Despite pitching solely out of the bullpen, Casey Janssen leads the Blue Jays with three wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first pitcher in 18 years to win three of his team’s first six games. The last to do it was Jose Melendez for the 1992 Padres.

* Joey Votto leads the Reds with four stolen bases, which matches his total from last season.

* Jeff Mathis is tied for the Angels’ team lead with two stolen bases, which matches his career-high.

* Lyle Overbay might be hitting just .080, but he leads the Blue Jays in triples. Granted he’s hit the team’s only triple thus far.

* Jeff Keppinger leads the Astros with 17 total bases.

* Cliff Pennington, who never hit more than eight homers in the minors, leads the A’s with two.

* Tyler Clippard, who has only appeared as a reliever, leads the Nationals in strikeouts with nine.

Key Matchups: Bobby Abreu, one of the most patient hitters in the game, has faced Dontrelle Willis 35 times in his career and only walked once. To be fair, the two haven’t squared off since 2005. Willis was the runner-up for the NL Cy Young that year, and hadn’t yet begun to struggle with his control. However, Abreu has only faced two pitchers more without drawing multiple walks. Both Roy Halladay (39 PA, 0 BB) and Curt Schilling (44 PA, 1 BB) are famous for pinpoint control.

After missing the final 129 games of 2009, Conor Jackson is still getting back in the groove for Arizona. He has hit safely in 10 of 11 games, but only has one extra-base hit and one multiple hit game. Against Brad Penny, Monday could be a breakout game. Jackson is a .474 career hitter against Penny, his second highest average against any pitcher he’s faced 15 times. David Wright (.579) is the only hitter with a higher average against Penny with at least 20 plate appearances.

Today’s Leaderboard: Early in 2010, Joel Pineiro, who starts Monday against the Tigers, has continued his renaissance by using the ground ball to his advantage. He currently has a 6.50 ground out to air out ratio, which is nearly double that of any other pitcher, according to

Trivia Answer: Jose Reyes turns 27 in June and has 105 more hits than Mauer, though in 645 more plate appearances. Miguel Cabrera almost qualifies, but he turned 27 yesterday.