OAKLAND — When Homer Bailey dominated the Giants his last time out, it was certainly impressive, but it came with the caveat of facing a weak lineup. There was no such caveat Tuesday night.
Bailey shut down the league-leading New York Yankees for 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run with eight strikeouts, as the A’s took the series opener, 6-2. Most notably, seven of Bailey’s eight strikeouts came on his splitter.
“I thought he was great,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He had a really good split again tonight. It keeps you off balance. He can go up top with his heater and the breaking ball is just enough. It was another night where he had a really good split. It pairs off his fastball really well.”
Bailey, 33, utilized the split early and often, throwing it on 32 of his 108 pitches. The right-hander made the powerful Bronx Bombers look silly, chasing pitches well out of the zone.
“It was (working well),” Bailey said. “I think just kind of understanding how I need to throw it — the pressure points and the speeds — it’s just something that’s been working really well for me and it’s complemented by the other pitches.”
Bailey’s splitter was effective his last start against the Giants as well, resulting in three strikeouts, two groundouts, and a flyout, without a single hit.
“It looks pretty nasty,” said A’s first baseman Matt Olson, who went 2-for-3 with his 26th home run of the season. “The guys I’ve talked to say it’s pretty good. It looks like a true tumble splitter, which is definitely a tough pitch to hit. Not many people have the true split. He was obviously on tonight.”
When Bailey’s splitter is on, it also makes his other pitches more effective. He fooled several Yankees hitters with his fastball because it comes out of the same arm slot as the split.
Said Melvin: “It allows him to pitch up and down. He can elevate with his fastball and the split kind of comes out of the same plane. Then he can throw his slider and sinker and kind of go side to side just enough. When he’s throwing strikes and getting ahead and he has that pitch, as we’ve seen since he’s been here, he can be a tough customer.”
The A’s have now won five of Bailey’s seven starts since acquiring him from the Reds. His last two outings were probably his best and should go a long way toward keeping him in the starting rotation for the rest of the season.
A’s Homer Bailey relies on splitter in shutting down mighty Yankees originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area