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Game 65 wrapup: For one series, A’s have trouble getting men in scoring position; starting pitchers continue to go deep in games

The A’s are talking a good game about not being tired at the end of a 17-game stretch, but looking at this weekend’s four game series in Chicago, you have to wonder.

The A’s got just 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That’s just over three per game. That’s not enough to win with consistently.

What Oakland did do was hit home runs, six of them. Five of the six, however, were solo shots, including Coco Crisp’s homer that gave the club an early lead Sunday.

    If this was a team that was struggling overall, those numbers might be a reason for concern. But with the A’s having won 13 of 17 and 18 of 23, “struggling’’ is not a good way to describe them.

The White Sox, who had been fighting through a rough patch of late, finally got some good pitching, first on Saturday from John Danks and then Sunday from Hector Santiago. And that pitching simply came out on top.

That’s baseball.

“It was a long stretch and overall we did well,’’ second baseman Jed Lowrie said. “We lost two here because they pitched pretty well.’’

Manager Bob Melvin suggested it was just one of those blips in the radar of a 162-game season.

“We’ve done really well getting runners into scoring position all year,’’ he said. “For this one series we didn’t, but that’s going to happen sometime.’’

 

–The A’s continue to be given a chance to win by their starting pitching. In winning 18 of their last 23 games, the Oakland starters have gone at least seven innings 15 times and at least six innings another five times.

In winning 13 times while playing the last 17 days without a day off, the starters went seven innings or more 11 times, six or more another three times.

Sunday’s A’s starter A.J. Griffin won’t get credit for a quality start because he allowed an eighth-inning homer to get the run total off him up to four, but the A’s were more than happy with the quality of the work.

“I was just trying to do my part,’’ Griffin said in looking at all the work deep into the game the starters have done.

What it’s meant is that the pitchers at the end of the bullpen, lefty Hideki Okajima and right-hander Jesse Chavez, aren’t seeing much time.

Okajima and Chavez each pitched in three of the just completed 17-game stretch. Okajima threw 2.2 innings, Chavez 4.0.

That’s what happens when a team is in close games to the end most days and the front-line relievers are getting the work. And the front-line relievers aren’t getting worn out because the starters are going so deep into games.

“This run started when we began to get consistent starting pitching,’’ Melvin said.

And even in losses, it continues.

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.