Joey Estes

Estes tosses A's first complete game in three years to beat Angels

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The Athletics hadn't seen a complete game from a rookie in nearly a decade -- until Joey Estes cruised through all 27 outs Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels at the Oakland Coliseum.

In just his 12th career MLB start, Estes needed only 92 pitches to shut out the Angels for a 5-0 Oakland win. That earned him one of the rarer feats in baseball these days -- a "Maddux."

While Estes was superb on his own, he received plenty of help from his defense to keep the Angels' offense at bay.

The A's infield turned three double plays on the night, and third baseman Brett Harris added a highlight diving catch to rob a would-be base hit in the first inning.

"When you have a guy that pitches with good pace, good energy, it makes it easier to make good plays behind him, and obviously we did that today," Harris said postgame. "That was an absolute dogfight by Joey, and it was awesome to see him get it done."

That defensive help didn't go unnoticed by Estes, either.

"They do everything that can for me, and I'll do whatever I can for them," Estes said. "That's how we win ballgames."

Estes only allowed one runner to reach second base all night, when Willie Calhoun and Matt Thaiss both singled in the top of the fifth inning. But the rookie righty responded by forcing the next two Angels hitters to pop out, ending the trouble.

One week earlier, Estes struck out a career-high eight batters against the very same Angels lineup, though he gave up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and took the loss in Anaheim.

This time around, Estes had a different approach to getting outs -- one that proved even more successful. He only had four strikeouts but consistently created weak contact that limited Los Angeles to five hits.

Surrendering just one walk helped keep Estes' pitch count low, as he finished the eighth inning at just 75 pitches -- way ahead of pace for a "Maddux." With the groove his starter was in, A's manager Mark Kotsay never said a word to Estes about coming out, though he did have a couple of relievers warming up later in the game.

"There was no exchange. You don't interrupt what's going on," Kotsay told reporters. "These guys know they can talk to me, they can tell me how they're feeling.

"But overall, in that game, there's no reason to communicate and go ask him how he's doing. His pitch count was low, he was having pretty quick innings, and throwing the ball really well."

The A's offense also made sure to reward Estes' success with plenty of run support. Harris drove in the game's first run on an error by Angels pitcher Davis Daniel in the second inning, before executing a successful double steal that allowed right fielder Lawrence Butler to score from third base.

Shortstop Max Schuemann (4) and Brent Rooker (17) each went deep to left field in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, giving Estes more than enough breathing room on the mound. Harris also added another RBI on a single in the sixth inning for the A's fifth and final run.

"He just looks more comfortable here right now," Kotsay said of Harris, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday. The rookie infielder hit just .116 over 43 at-bats during his first MLB stint in May, but he now has four RBI in two games since being recalled.

However, this night was about another rookie, who became the first A's pitcher to throw a complete game since Sean Manaea on June 2, 2021. That streak of 515 games without a complete game was the longest in franchise history and third-longest in MLB history. Estes, 22, also is the youngest Oakland pitcher to accomplish the same feat since Trevor Cahill in 2010.

Wednesday's win clinched a series win over the Angels, a good bounce-back for the A's after being swept in a three-game set in Anaheim last week.

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