OAKLAND, Calif. — Catcher A.J. Pierzynski joked about tagging out Coco Crisp on an attempted steal of home Friday as the only way to improve his percentage for nailing base stealers. Ozzie Guillen also wisecracked about it, but they both know opponents’ 35-for-40 for success-rate stealing against them is no laughing matter.
“We have to get better.,” Guillen said Saturday. “How? I always say when you have a guy who can throw [really well] behind the plate, [no worries]. But I think everything comes with the pitchers. The pitcher has to take care of the guy on first base to give the catcher a better chance.”
The A’s did not run on catcher Ramon Castro in their 6-2 win against the Sox on Saturday, perhaps because they got ahead early and led 5-0 in the fifth inning and didn’t see the need.
Pierzynski has an average throwing arm, at best, and that won’t change, so Guillen knows improvements in every aspect of defending the steal are key – starting with holding runners and seeing that shortstop Alexei Ramirez catches the ball at the bag and not in front and bringing his glove back for the tag.
“Everything. Just name it,” Guillen said. “Good jump, bad throws, don’t pay attention to the runners. There’s a lot of things that go into it. We have to get better.”
Sox starters Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd have allowed eight stolen bases, tied for fifth worst in the majors. Reliever Matt Thornton has been stolen on five times.
After Crisp led off the first with a single, Floyd (4-3) did a nice job of varying his moves and paying attention to Crisp, who did not attempt a steal. Floyd fell behind 3-0 on the No. 2 hitter, Daric Barton, before coming back and getting him on a pop fly to left.
Castro started behind the plate Saturday, giving Pierzynski a day off after a night game.
“I think he need more rest,” Guillen said. “This guy play so long and so much sometimes we forget we carry him.”
The A’s first run Saturday came on a roller by Cliff Pennington that got under a diving Paul Konerko’s glove at first and off the heel of a sprawling Gordon Beckham in short right. Kevin Kouzmanoff (double) never broke stride and easily beat Beckham’s throw home. A single by Crisp moved Pennington to third, and Barton hit a sacrifice fly to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.
The Sox were held to six hits, including a two-run homer by Paul Konerko against A’s starter Tyson Ross (3-2).