OAKLAND, Calif. —Brad Ziegler spent the first two months of the season pitching in the minors. Now the Oakland reliever is making plans to send some of his gear to Cooperstown.
Ziegler set the major league record for scoreless innings to start a career as the Athletics’ bullpen threw 4 1-3 shutout innings to bail out starter Dana Eveland in a 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Ziegler gave up two singles in two innings to extend his scoreless streak to 27 and break a record that had stood since 1907.
Afterward, the 28-year-old right-hander kept two balls from his outing but planned to send the rest—along with a pair of his shoes and a hat—to the Hall of Fame.
“I don’t know if that’s something I’d ever thought I’d have to do as long as it wasn’t a real embarrassing moment or someone else’s highlight, but it’s pretty incredible,” Ziegler said. “It’s real special. I feel like I’ve worked real hard to get here. Thankfully it’s not over yet. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Jack Cust and Kurt Suzuki both homered for the A’s, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in 11 games. Oakland improved to 4-8 against Texas this season and prevented the Rangers from getting their first three-game sweep of the year.
Jeremy Blevins (1-1), the second of four Oakland pitchers, went 1 1-3 innings to earn his first major league win and Huston Street worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 23 opportunities.
“It’s a very tough lineup as evident of what they’ve done the whole year, but you’ve got to give credit to Blevins and Ziegler for what they’ve been able to do,” Street said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence when those two guys walk out to the mound, even as young as they are. But that’s kind of the way this team is. We’ve got a young team that everybody has high expectations for.”
Ziegler’s record broke the previous mark of 25 innings set by Philadelphia Phillies right-hander George McQuillan. It’s also the third-longest scoreless streak overall by an Oakland reliever.
“He’s been tremendous,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “The other night when he tied it, it was in a loss and it didn’t feel all that great but today is a good one because not only did he set a new major league record but it was in a crucial part of the game against a difficult part of the lineup to get through.”
The A’s went into the game with the lowest batting average in the American League and second-worst in the majors but roughed up Eric Hurley, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list to make the start. The A’s scored six runs to knock the rookie right-hander out of the game after only two innings.
Cust hit his 19th home run off Hurley (1-2) in the first. The A’s designated hitter was hitting only .136 since the All-Star break before his two-run drive gave Oakland a 2-1 lead.
Suzuki hit a three-run homer off Hurley in the second.
“He said he was missing his spots so we just have to keep working and see how it goes the next time he gets the baseball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Certainly it didn’t work out today.”
Hank Blalock drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off Eveland in the fifth. Blalock’s hit capped a four-run inning for the Rangers and cut the A’s lead to 6-5 while chasing Eveland from the game.
Milton Bradley, who was ejected from Saturday’s game after arguing with plate umpire Jerry Meals, added a pair of hits and drove in the Rangers’ first run with a double.
But that was about all the offense Texas could muster and the Rangers failed to get a runner to second base in the final four innings.
The game was halted briefly in the fifth when Gerald Laird hit a foul ball that ricocheted off the mask of catcher Suzuki, who stood up and placed his hands on his knees then stayed in that position for several minutes while team trainer Steve Sayles and Geren looked on.
Suzuki remained in the game and finished 3-for-4.