In for Joe Stiglich tonight
No one could have blamed Bob Melvin if he had told Brandon Allen to take a seat for a few days while he was going through an 0 for 22 spell earlier this week, but the A’s manager was intent on letting his first baseman work his way out of it.
It’s not like Oakland had great options at first, anyway, particularly with Conor Jackson now in Boston. Allen is the guy through the end of the season, and even if he struggles, the A’s are determined to give him a fair chance to be in the mix for the job next year.
“You start taking a kid out and benching him and that adds to his doubt,” Melvin said. “He’s in a position here where he’s our first baseman and we want to make sure that he goes out there every day knowing we have confidence in him.”
To take a little pressure off, the A’s have moved Allen down in the lineup in recent days so he doesn’t have to worry as much about being a major run-producer. He responded by going 4-for-12 the past three games with a couple of doubles.
“His at-bats have been a lot better,” Melvin said.
Allen said he’s thankful for the support from the manager.
“It feels good that he has the confidence in me to believe that I’m going to come out of the little slump I’ve been in,” he said. “I appreciate that and I appreciate my teammates sticking behind me, too, rooting for me.”
Allen said he hasn’t been making major adjustments because he feels like he’s simply been trying to do too much instead of just reacting to pitches.
“It’s easy to get down yourself when you have have 25-30 at-bats and you don’t have anything to show for it,” he said. “You just want to get out of it that much harder. It’s just little things, so I don’t want to get too sophisticated with it and make it harder by looking at every little thing that’s wrong.”
Jemile Weeks returned to the lineup after missing two games with hamstring soreness, but in a new slot. After 75 starts in the leadoff spot and nine others as the No. 9 hitter, Weeks batted second for the first time in the majors.
“I don’t want Weeks to feel like he has to push it right away,” Melvin said.
“I batted second in the minors some,” Weeks said. “It’s a little bit different strategically from the two hole, but it’s still the same game.
Melvin said he’d like to get closer Andrew Bailey as many appearances as possible before the end of the season.
“I’d like to get his innings up a little more so you’re not uncomfortable the next year increasing them,” he said. “You don’t feel like you’re adding on 20-25 innings.”
Bailey has thrown just 36 2/3 innings this year after throwing 49 a year ago after missing much of the first half with a strained right forearm.
The Tigers can clinch the AL Central title tonight with a win (Cleveland was winning at Minnesota, so it doesn’t like the Tigers will back in before the game starts). Kind of surprising considering they went to the World Series in 2006 after knocking out the A’s in the ALCS, but the Tigers haven’t won a division title since 1987 when they were in the AL East.
“I think our preference would be that somebody else loses,” Melvin said, “and we win and they can do it later, not out on the field. I think everybody would rather see it that way. Certainly they are a good team. We were fortunate to hold them off last night knowing that if they won, they would have been celebrating.”
OAK: CF Crisp, 2B Weeks, LF Matsui, DH Willingham, RF DeJesus, SS Pennington, 1B Allen, C Powell, 3B Sogard
DET: CF Jackson, RF Kelly, LF Young, 1B Cabrera, DH Martinez, C Avile, SS Peralta, 3B Betemit, 2B Santiago