The A’s have won 19 of their last 24, they are tied for first place in the American League West and they’ve beaten the Yankees three times in four tries this year.
So things are going well.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a certain amount of uneasiness facing the club as it prepares for the second game of the Yankee series Wednesday.
Much of their success of late has been with the outfield finally intact again. Much of their struggles occurred when the outfielders were hurt, and now there’s a chance that injury might be a problem again.
Yoenis Cespedes came up limping after running out a first-inning grounder and eventually came out of the game in the third inning.
Coco Crisp didn’t come out of the game at all, but in addition to the usual mound of ice he had strapped to his left hamstring after the game, he had a smaller bag wrapped around his right ankle.
Manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday would be the first time the club could make any kind of clear statement on just how serious Cespedes’ injury is. And while the manager doesn’t believe Crisp’s injury is serious, Crisp’s legs are crucial to his playing at a high level.
History says that the club can’t be without Cespedes or Crisp for long and compete at its best level. The A’s are now 34-17 (a .667 winning percentage) when Cespedes is in the starting lineup this season and 5-10 (.333) when he’s not.
The percentages are exactly the same for Crisp, although the numbers are different – 32 wins against 16 losses.
That’s not to say that Cespedes or Crisp played definite roles in each of the games the A’s won while they were starting. It is to say that the A’s generally play to a higher level when Cespedes and Crisp can help guide the way.
So when there will be some slightly unnerving moments Wednesday while the A’s wait to see how their outfielders check out.
–Sean Doolittle has not had things easy lately.
Until Tuesday night. Asked to hold a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning, he did as requested, throwing a 1-2-3 inning of relief.
He struck out the Yankees Chris Stewart to end the inning, and that at-bat may be one that serves as a turning point for Doolittle, who’d allowed 10 runs in his previous five appearances.
“He was fouling the ball off,’’ Doolittle said, “but there was something in the way he was fouling the ball off. He was late on my pitches. I really felt good.
“I was able to slow (the Yankees) down and speed them up. That maybe something I hadn’t been doing enough.’’
–Hiro Nakajima’s numbers have fallen off a bit at Triple-A Sacramento, but if anything, manager Bob Melvin was more effusive about the shortstop Tuesday than he’s been lately.
“He was at around .320 and now he’s just under .300,’’ the manager said. Nakajima came into Tuesday with a .292 average. “He’s been doing well.’’
The manager was particularly pleased with the way Nakajima was adapting to playing some second base and some third base. He was strictly a shortstop when playing in Japan.
“He’s been very open to playing different positions,’’ Melvin said. “He wants to contribute. And the way he’s been playing, who knows? It could be any time.’’