Josh Reddick has hit another rough patch at the plate, but he found a way to make an impact in the A’s 4-2 victory Sunday that closed out a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. Reddick made a diving catch in right field to rob Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the first. Then in the ninth, with a man on second and the tying run at the plate, Reddick charged and made a sliding catch of Eric Thames’ shallow fly for the second out to help Grant Balfour close out the save. Those plays are typical of the standout defense Reddick has played all season. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he was looking to use Reddick at DH on Sunday to give his legs a break, but with lefty Tommy Milone — a high-contact pitcher — on the mound, Melvin wanted Reddick out there defensively.
“He’s as prepared and as good a right fielder as I’ve seen,” Melvin said, “whether it’s on the throwing end, going in on balls, back on balls … He reads balls well. He’s played really a Gold Glove-caliber right field for us this year.”
And when Reddick is making plays like that, it helps make up for his struggles at the plate. He won A.L. Player of the Week honors just last week as part of a 14 for 28 streak that helped him snap out of an earlier funk. But over his past eight games, Reddick is just 3 for 31. On the bright side for the A’s, they’ve been getting game-to-game contributions up and down the rest of the batting order, which helps pick up the slack.
But the A’s need the production of their No. 3 hitter, especially with Yoenis Cespedes’ power numbers having dipped a bit recently in the cleanup spot. Cespedes is finding other ways to make an impact. He’s looked very good lately in left field and he’s been stealing bases to help spark rallies. But he’s knocked in just four runs over his past 16 games and is on a season-long 20-game homerless streak. Not that home runs have been a problem for the A’s. They lead the majors with 79 home runs since the All-Star break, and they received key homers in all three victories over Seattle. As they try to nail down a postseason spot over these final 23 games, however, they would surely benefit from their 3-4 batters heating up …