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To say the Oakland A’s have an eye for pitching talent and like to have lots of live arms is like telling a 35-year-old that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
Graham Godfrey is one of those live arms that for one reason or another hasn’t been able to find his mark when called up for duty.
Godfrey thinks he may have found what ailed him over his last few starts, when his earned run average skyrocketed from 1.21 on June 15 to 3.29 prior to the game on Wednesday evening.
“I’ve been battling an injury and you can kind of notice the dip in my numbers,” said Godfrey. “It was something I was trying to pitch through, but I just needed some time off. I was able to rehab it and get it strong again.”
Godfrey is talking about a minor problem with his left knee. Whatever he’s done, he looked much improved on Wednesday, as he pitched six strong, gave up three hits, struck out five and only gave up one run in Sacramento’s 5-2 comeback win over the Memphis Redbirds.
The first two innings sailed along like an easy cruise on a Mississippi steamboat, as both starting pitchers looked sharp and were hitting their spots.
For the visiting Redbirds, Brandon Dickson sat down for all six innings he faced, as did Cats ace Godfrey. Godfrey’s stuff looked a little better. He had three strikeouts, and the Memphis hitters were having a hard time getting around on his fastball.
Godfrey only allowed a walk in the third, but Dickson wasn’t as lucky.
Sacramento’s second baseman Grant Green led off the bottom of the third with his 12th homer of the season, to put the first digits on the Raley Field scoreboard for the night.
Both pitchers kept their rhythm until the sixth, when the Redbirds also put a run on the board.
With one out, the ninth hitter in the order was Bryan Anderson, who ripped a shot into deep right centerfield. Jermaine Mitchell went back for the ball, but the ball just missed his outstretched glove, hit the bottom of the wall, and rolled back towards centerfield. By the time Mitchell got to the ball, Anderson was safely arriving at third base.
The next hitter was Adron Chambers, who lofted a soft shot into short centerfield for a run-scoring single that tied the game at one apiece.
Darren Bush, third-base coach and Cats manager, replaced Godfrey after six great innings. Godfrey threw only 61 pitches in his six innings of work, 49 of them for strikes, and Bush was extremely happy about the way Godfrey went about his business on the mound.
“Him going six innings at that pitch count is an outstanding job,” said Bush. “He attacked the zone, changed speeds, he was down — great outing.”
He was replaced by Arnold Leon to start the seventh.
The first hitter Leon faced proved that the Redbirds were not done scoring just yet. In the seventh frame, Matt Adams, one of Cardinals brightest prospects, took Leon’s 1-1 pitch over the right field wall only a few yards inside the foul pole, for a solo jack that put Memphis ahead by 2-1.
It seemed like the leadoff hitters were getting to have all the fun this game.
And the fun continued when Daric Barton led off the bottom of the eighth with a solo shot of his own that tied the score at 2-2.
Sacramento would threaten further in the inning, as Adam Rosales hit a two-out single that kept the inning alive. Mitchell followed that with a single of his own, which knocked Memphis starter Dickson out of the game.
Colin Cowgill then broke the tie with an infield single that scored Rosales from third on a tricky play. Cowgill’s single didn’t even make it out of the infield, as Redbird shortstop Ryan Jackson make a diving stop to keep the ball from going into the outfield. The lucky diving stop caught both Rosales and Bush off guard.
“I had to wait a long time to see if the ball ricocheted off, but I was stopping Rosie (Rosales),” said Bush. “He was coming so hard down the line that he didn’t pick me up, and it worked out.”
Rosales hesitated just for a second on his way home, once he realized the ball didn’t make it into the outfield, but eventually made it home before the ball, giving Sacramento the go-ahead run.
“I thought I was dead in my tracks,” said Rosales. “It was a really tricky play because it happened so fast.”
The Cats bats weren’t done yet. Josh Donaldson stepped into the box and drilled a line shot into right centerfield that plated both Mitchell and Cowgill, padding the lead and assuring the win for the home team.
“I felt like I was back to the old Graham that was doing well the first half of the season,” said the 2012 All-Star. “A lot of it (his recent struggles) had to do with just feeling healthy again.”
What’s it going to take for Godfrey’s to stick around the next time he gets the call?
“It’s going to take a little bit of luck and timing,” said Godfrey. “Hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity and make the most of it.”