After 122 games last year, the A’s were five games behind Texas, so it’s clearly better that after 122 games this season Oakland trails the Rangers by just 1.5 games.
At this point last year, the A’s had clearly turned a corner. After a stretch of four losses in five games, the A’s had gone 5-1 in Games 117-122. They would only lose 12 of their final 40 games.
This time around Oakland is 3-3 in Games 117-122. And the A’s hardly look like a team ready to go on a 28-12 spree to the finish. They’ve averaged just over three runs per game in those six games.
They just don’t hit. Not that they can’t hit. It’s that they haven’t, not consistently, not since before the All-Star break.
Batting coach Chili Davis’ job right now isn’t to be envied. This is a man who has been to the post-season four times as a player. He knows what hitters need to do. He can coach, but he can’t do it for them.
And right now the A’s are not doing it for themselves.
If that doesn’t change, the A’s story, so promising for the first four months of the season, is going to lose much of its luster.
–Josh Reddick is going to be in the lineup every day, whether or not he hits.
Saturday night he showed why. With the Indians’ speedy Drew Stubbs on second base and no one out. Reddick caught Michael Bourn’s liner to right and let fly with a laser to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who slapped the tag on the surprised Stubbs.
And the Coliseum crowd went wild. For many, it might have been the best throw they’d ever seen in a big league game.
Donaldson, however, wasn’t surprised.
“I know Red and the arm he has,’’ the third baseman said. “I thought he’d get him. I tell you what, Stubbs is fast, but he had to kick it into a higher gear to make the play as close as it was.’’
Bob Melvin held the opposite view.
“I never thought he had a chance,’’ the manager said. “He had to put it right on the spot, and he did. It was a great throw.’’
–Speaking of defense, Eric Sogard turned in a terrific game at shortstop in what was just the second baseman’s fifth start at the position this season.
And his eighth inning was a simply a thing of beauty.
First, with the infield heavily shifted against the left-handed Carlos Santana, Sogard raced toward the middle of the diamond and stole a hit from Santana with an all-out dive.
Then he sprinted into short left field near the line to catch up with a tricky pop fly off the bat of Michael Brantley.
Then to finish the inning off, Sogard recorded the third out with a leaping catch, the 5-foot-10 infielder climbing probably another foot to steal a hit from Asdrubal Cabrera.
“I guess he’s a little above average,’’ starting pitcher Dan Straily said, breaking into a wide grin. “that was one heck of an inning.’’