By John Hickey
Thursday, May 30th, 2013 at 6:14 pm in 2013 regular season.
Brandon Moss’s swing has been so off-key that manager Bob Melvin felt the need to pull Moss aside before Thursday’s game to talk about it.
In the 31 games coming into Thursday’s series finale against the Giants at AT&T Park, Moss was hitting just .191. Before that, he was at .302.
The manager asked Moss what his approach was at the plate.
“I told him straight-up that I really didn’t know,’’ Moss said after the A’s dropped a 5-2 game to the Giants, bringing a six-game winning streak to an end. It started to go (wrong) in Seattle (May 10-12). It got to where I wasn’t recognizing pitches.’’
Starting with that series in Safeco Field, Moss has three times as many strikeouts (21) as hits (seven). He’s had some ugly looking swings, chasing balls out of the strike zone. Along the way, he’s gone from playing most of the time to where he’s now playing only against right-handed starting pitchers.
Melvin believes Moss has the capability to play against both right-handers and lefties, but for the moment he’s trying to put the first baseman in a position where he has the best chance to succeed.
That meant Moss was on the bench when Barry Zito started for the Giants Thursday. In the seventh inning, with right-hander George Kontos pitching, one run in and the tying runs on base, Melvin went to Moss. Bruce Bochy, the Giants’ manager, went to his lefty specialist out of the bullpen, Jeremy Affeldt.
Twenty-four hours earlier, or a week or two weeks ago, Moss’s swing was so out of synch that it would have been a complete mismatch. Not so Thursday. Yes, Moss struck out. But he didn’t lunge at pitches. He didn’t chase pitches out of the strike zone.
“He got some better swings today,’’ Melvin said. “I really thought he’d come through right there.’’
So did Moss, who was thrilled to feel something of the old rhythm at the plate.
“I need to see the pitches longer,’’ Moss said. “My swing was breaking down. I went through the same thing last year. If you are flailing up there and if you are not recognizing the pitch, then you are just guessing.
“Obviously I would have liked the results to have been much different. But I wasn’t chasing the slider in the batter’s box. I wish the result had matched the effort. But I felt much better. When things are tough, you’ve gotta be who you are.
“I wish I could be one of those guys like Miguel Cabrera, but that’s not who I am.’’
For all of that, the A’s have been winning without much input from Moss, and he is greatly heartened by that.
Moss pointed out that he and Yoenis Cespedes are both still struggling and Josh Reddick has been out of the lineup for three weeks now, and the team has won 11 of its last 13 to close to within three games of first-place Texas in the American League West.
“The team is still winning games,’’ he said. “We just took three of four from the team I feel is the best in the National League. It shows who we are. It’s a very proud thing. It feels great to win.’’