OAKLAND -- A's rookie Jarrod Parker had the unenviable task of pitching twice against Detroit ace Justin Verlander in the American League Division Series, and while the outcomes were predictable, Parker hopes the lessons learned will help him turn the tables someday.
At the beginning of the year, in spring training, Parker was just trying to make the Oakland roster. By the end of it, he had acquitted himself quite well trying to match pitch for pitch against one of the best starting pitchers in baseball -- if not the best.
That bigger picture was not lost on Parker in the wake of the 6-0 Game 5 loss to Verlander and the Tigers on Thursday night.
"It's something obviously I'm going to cherish," said the 23-year-old Parker, the fifth youngest pitcher in Oakland history to start a postseason game. "It was a great experience, and hopefully, 5-6 years from now, somebody else is saying, 'I'm throwing two games against Jarrod Parker.' "
Parker gave up just five hits, a walk and two runs over the first six innings before the game fell apart in a four-run seventh, during which he wound up on the hook for two more runs.
He did his best to keep the A's in the game against the Detroit right-hander. Unfortunately, Verlander staged a vintage performance, throwing a four-hit shutout with just one walk and 11 strikeouts.
"He (Verlander) pitched the whole game, and we knew we were going to have to be real tight, work our butts off to
The young right-hander handled the dangerous middle of Detroit's order, rendering A.L. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and power threat Prince Fielder 0 for 6. But the bottom of the order bit him, particularly in the third inning. No. 9 hitter Omar Infante led off that inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on the hardest-hit ball of the night against Parker, a double into the left-center gap by leadoff man Austin Jackson.
The Tigers sacrificed Jackson to third, and then Parker uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a second run to score. But he allowed just a hit and a walk over the next three innings to stop the bleeding and keep it close.
"At this point in the year, to be able to do something like that, I think I had a pretty good outing," he said. "This late in the season, with so many innings logged, I'm happy with it. I'm obviously not happy with the loss and the year being over, but we had a great year and we did a lot of things people never expected."
Parker believes the A's will only get better as they mature and thinks what the club accomplished this year only scratched the surface of what's to come in the future.
"We battled all year, we battled tonight, and what we've done this year has been a pretty amazing accomplishment," he said. "It's something we want to continue, take the success we had and the support the fans given us and turn it over into something better next year and for a lot of years to come."
Parker said he definitely didn't feel like a rookie by the time the playoffs rolled around.
"I think there was point halfway through the year where (manager) Bob (Melvin) expected us to not play and pitch like rookies," he said. "We learned a lot. This isn't anything where we should hang our heads and dwell on it. We're a good team. We know that."