My first five starts are under my belt, and so far, so good. I have had two very good starts -- one good start on Opening Day when I gave up one run, and two starts that, for me, were below average because I did not get very deep into those two games.
Going deep into games is something I really pride myself on as a starting pitcher. Including my last start at home, I've gone eight innings twice. A big key for me in doing that is getting early contact and getting early outs. I take pride in going out there with the goal to pitch nine innings. I don't strike out a lot of guys, so I go out there and try and eat up innings. Going deep into games helps save our bullpen. When things aren't going well, you are throwing a lot of pitches and walking guys. I then feel like I am letting down the team and the guys.
Pitch count plays a factor in trying to go the distance, but I think it also has to do with how fresh you are. I feel like if I am fresh and I am in a groove, they might keep me in the game longer than if I am struggling with balls and walking guys. The only time I will look at the pitch count is in the fifth, sixth or seventh inning. My focus is more on throwing strikes and getting deep into the game.
Some teams and their hitters are more aggressive. They swing early in the count, and you can get four or five first-pitch outs. That is huge for a starter, but the key still is to throw strikes. Not being a classic strikeout pitcher sometimes works in my favor when it comes to pitch count and going deep into ballgames. When I have someone down in the count 0-2, I am not throwing a waste pitch. I go after them, and it can just as easily turn into a swing and miss, or a weak groundball.
Last year gave me a lot of confidence. I won 18 games, and I feel like I belong here. I want guys on this team to think they have a good chance to win when I have the ball in my hand. I think our guys feel like that about our other starters. I have confidence in everybody here.
A lot of people have made a lot of noise about our starting staff being so young. Since I came up here two years ago, it is really all I have known. Dallas Braden was the oldest guy then, and last year we had Ben Sheets here, which was awesome because he has been around awhile. But I like having a young rotation on the whole. We have so much in common, and we go through the same things together. We are all sort of in our third year together, and I think we have a pretty good idea now about how things work. I also like having some older pitchers around, and we have guys like that in our bullpen.
Oakland right-hander Trevor Cahill has a 3-0 record with a 2.30 ERA after five starts this season. In his last two starts -- both wins -- the All-Star gave up two runs on 11 hits and one walk. He also has 11 strikeouts in those two wins.
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