When discussing the dramatic ninth-inning at-bat from Saturday’s game that resulted in Coco Crisp’s game-winning homer, both A’s starting pitcher Jarrod Parker and manager Bob Melvin hit on the same topic.
On a 3-1 pitch to Crisp, Baltimore pitcher Darren O’Day almost certainly threw a strike because he didn’t want to walk Crisp.
“He’s always going to be a threat to run,’’ Parker said, a variation of which also came from Melvin.
The statement used to be true. But the fact is that Crisp may be a threat to run, he isn’t actually running much anymore. Coming into Sunday, he has three steals in his last 54 games, 51 of them starts.
Crisp does lead the A’s with 16 steals, but he’s off significantly from the 49 thefts he had two years ago and last year’s 39.
Which leads to the question of whether or not Crisp is hurt. You’ll never know by asking Crisp, who doesn’t like to talk about injuries, either major or minor. That does two things – it doesn’t give information to the other team to use against the A’s, and Crisp doesn’t come off sounding as if he’s looking for excuses.
So maybe O’Day was pitching with the idea that a walk would mean he’d be facing a premier base stealing threat if he did so.
Melvin didn’t want to get into the extent of any Crisp leg injuries. Neither did Crisp, although he said he’s “through stealing bases for the year.’’ He was kidding.
Melvin did say he expects Crisp’s base stealing numbers to pick up from now through the end of the season, and he said that one reason for Crisp’s inability to run had been the leadoff hitter’s inability to get on base for much of the middle of the season.
From June 4 through Aug. 19 Crisp averaged just .206 and his on-base percentage was just .265.
It could have been a slump – they happen – it could have been an injury. And there is reason to believe it was an injury. On June 4, Crisp stole his 12th base in 14 attempts. Since then he’s been almost a non-factor as a base stealer.
As a threat, that’s one thing. But he hasn’t been running.
Melvin says, however, he expects to see Crisp running more the rest of the season. Since the A’s are generally a better team when he does, that would be an excellent prognosis for Oakland, if it plays out.