Athletics Analysis

Mariners starter Woo shines in full-circle outing vs. hometown A's

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Bryan Woo started throwing baseballs around his Alameda home at a young age.

The right-handed pitcher attended Alameda High School where he shined on the diamond -- both on the bump and at the plate. As a senior in 2018, he went 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA while hitting an impressive .422.

Six years later and 10 minutes down the road from where he grew up -- Woo took the mound at the Coliseum on Thursday with an "S" on his hat, getting the start against the Athletics in a series rubber match with his Seattle Mariners. And he felt right at home during the outing, showcasing a masterclass (W, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) against his home team.

Mariners manager Scott Servais was impressed by the outing and happy Woo got to put on a show in front of his friends and family in Seattle's series-winning 3-0 victory over Oakland.

"Wow, Bryan was awesome today," Servais said postgame Thursday. "I knew he was super excited to get a chance to pitch here in front of all his family and friends. He was fantastic.

"What a season he’s putting together. Can’t throw the ball much better than he is right now. I actually thought he was throwing better in the fifth and sixth than he was early in the game."

Woo grew up a fan of the other team across the Bay Bridge, and he idolized former San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford as he played mostly infield early on in his career.

Thursday's Bay Area homecoming was special nonetheless.

Woo threw a season-high 85 pitches and didn't walk a batter in the win.

The 24-year-old (3-0) remained unbeaten after escaping a pair of early jams when Oakland got its leadoff batter to third base in each of the first two innings. Woo retired the next three batters in order in both frames.

"That was good," Woo said after the game. "To start I wasn’t as clean as I wanted to be. Obviously, first at-bat of the game I left the changeup to [Abraham] Toro. I was falling behind and wasn’t in great counts early, but I was able to make some adjustments and get back in good counts later and obviously got a little groove after that.

"Definitely a little bit more of a game of adjustments today rather than just having it going from the first pitch."

Woo has faced the A's four times in his career and has yet to allow a run in any of those games through 21 1/3 innings. In two starts at the Coliseum, he's allowed five hits in 11 scoreless innings.

A very modest Woo spoke to reporters after his gem and downplayed the hometown factor tying into his success against the A's, and he actually believes the pressure is heightened while playing in front of familiar faces.

"I don’t think it’s anything with the A’s or coming home," Woo said. "Honestly, I think coming home you have to focus a little more just because you’re seeing family, you’re seeing friends, you look up in the stands and you see a lot of familiar faces.

"Sometimes it can actually throw you off a little bit. So you have to lock in a little bit more and be a little bit more focused on baseball."

Focused on baseball he was, and in return, he placed himself in elite MLB history.

Woo is the second pitcher in MLB history with a sub-1.20 ERA and 12.0+ strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first six starts of a season, joining four-time MLB All-Star and former Cleveland Guardians (then Indians) Cliff Lee in 2008.

He also boasts the lowest ERA in Mariners history over the first six starts of a season, surpassing Randy Johnson, Erik Hanson, Logan Gilbert and James Paxton.

It's early in his career, but joining any list with Johnson is a win in itself.

With the A's playing what likely will be their final season at the Coliseum as they plan their relocation to Las Vegas with a pitstop in Sacramento, Woo could be the final Oakland-born pitcher to start a game at the Coliseum.

And despite the outcome for the A's and the team name across his jersey -- the hometown kid repped his city well with Thursday's showing.

The announced crowd of 6,571 at the Coliseum was mixed of A's and Mariners fans Thursday afternoon, but everyone -- all 6,571 attendees -- rooted and will continue to root for Woo as the inspiring MLB journey continues for the Bay Area kid.

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