St. Thomas’ Jharel Cotton Resplendent In Major League Debut … Shuts Down Angels
WINNER: Jharel Cotton
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels are likely to see a lot more of Jharel Cotton’s mix-and-match pitching style in coming years.
They sure found themselves off balance against the young Oakland right-hander making a memorable major league debut Wednesday, and the Angels lost the series finale 4-1 to the Oakland Athletics.
For all the nerves during a lousy pregame bullpen session, the 24-year-old right-hander (1-0) sure looked poised from the moment he stepped on the rubber in the first. Cotton impressed with four pitches, dazzling with his changeup, showing strong command of his fastball and mixing in some solid curveballs and sliders to keep the Angels guessing.
“We didn’t get too many good looks at him,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said.
Alex Meyer (0-2) struck out five but walked four in 3 1/3 innings, allowing one run on one hit.
“It was fun getting out there. Command, obviously, went in and out a little more than I like to, having two four-pitch walks,” he said. “You can’t have stuff like that happen, but overall my arm felt good, it was fun being out there and competing.”
Cotton, on the other hand, had everything going.
He allowed one run and two hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking two in a 102-pitch performance. He got the ball as a keepsake, a pie in the face from every player, and had 30 text messages to greet him from thrilled family and friends.
When his day was done, Cotton received an embrace from catcher Stephen Vogt as the infield gathered around him. The pitcher jogged off the mound in the seventh and stopped to tip his cap for the sparse crowd on an unseasonably warm September afternoon. Attendance was listed at 11,866.
“They always have our back and they always cheer loud for us. He deserved better today,” Vogt said. “But they gave him a great ovation and we’re so thankful for our fans that showed up today.”
Born on St. Thomas, Cotton became the fourth pitcher in big league history born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The right-hander follows Akeel Morris, Al McBean and Elrod Hendricks as big leaguers from Rock City.
He came to the A’s from the Dodgers at the trade deadline in a deal that sent Josh Reddick to Los Angeles. He nearly tossed a one-hitter in his second start for Triple-A Nashville, giving the Oakland front office a preview of his potential at the next level.
Ryan Madson, Oakland’s third reliever, finished for his 29th save.
Cotton was the second A’s starter to make his major league debut in three days, following Raul Alcantara’s struggle on Monday.
It also marked the second time in Oakland history the A’s had five starters make their major league debuts in one season, also in 1978. Using the 27th pitcher of the season, the A’s matched the second-most to appear in a year — also 1977 and 2009 — behind 30 in 2015.
“It didn’t look like anything really fazed him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Cotton. “He’s got the stuff.”
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker flew home to Southern California from Seattle, three days after taking a line drive to the head and undergoing surgery to stop bleeding on his brain. … INF Yunel Escobar (left wrist) was scheduled to hit Wednesday. “He feels better,” Scioscia said. “We’ll turn him loose in batting practice and see how he is Friday.” … C Geovany Soto (right knee) continues to progress slowly. He’ll be re-evaluated when the Angels return home this weekend.
SUPERSTAR POTENTIAL: On Wednesday afternoon Jharel Cotton of St. Thomas became only the fourth Virgin Islander in history to ever pitch at the major league level.