A few tidbits from the A’s 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, their third defeat in the past four games.
–It doesn’t take long for all of those good vibes from July to vanish, does it? The A’s have lost that air of invincibility they had, and it’s been a combination of poor hitting and not-so-stellar starting pitching that’s worked against them. A strength of this team has been its ability to brush off adversity, and that’s a quality that would prove very valuable right now. The Toronto Blue Jays arrive Thursday for a four-game series. They’ve struggled recently but still provide a challenge. And then the Los Angeles Angels arrive for a three-game series, and those games against a division rival right above the A’s in the standings carry heavy weight.
Third baseman Brandon Inge had this take on the A’s recent offensive struggles:
“We’ve still been making contact,” he said. “But it’s amazing the difference that five feet makes (on a hit ball) one way or another. You’re talking about three up and three down, as opposed to the first three guys getting on base and then a bloop scores two runs. We’ve actually been very fortunate (during that hot streak) that balls we hit found holes. We’re still doing the same thing we had been doing (but with less luck).”
The point he’s making: It’s part of baseball to have good fortune and bad fortune hitting. And it’s those good-luck times that help a team run off the kind of hot streak the A’s had in July. But eventually,the luck evens out over the course of a long season. I don’t think Inge was trying to say his team’s success has been built on luck. But it brings up an interesting point: The A’s did have an awful lot of borderline bloopers fall their way over the past month. Now that they find the going tougher, you just know a lot of those balls are going to start falling against them. We’ll see how they respond to that, and what impact it has on their August record.
–You’ll notice the right-handed hitting Chris Carter has gotten starts at DH against right-handed pitchers in the past two games. Bob Melvin has opted for Carter over Jonny Gomes. I like that call, considering Carter’s enormous power and the fact that you still want to see what this guy can do over an extended period. But with Seth Smith in an 0 for 17 slump, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gomes maybe get the nod over him in upcoming games. The Blue Jays are starting a right-hander in Henderson Alvarez on Thursday, and we’ll see if Melvin goes against the grain and gives the rigth-handed hitting Gomes a start over Smith.
That’s all for now …