Join reliever Sean Doolittle for a live chat as his Oakland Athletics prepare for their NLDS series against the Detroit Tigers.
What’s in a number?
On Saturday, Brandon Moss got to the 30-homer level. On Sunday, Josh Donaldson was taken out of the game in part to preserve a plus-.300 batting average and Chris Young came out with his average at .200.
There’s something about round numbers that baseball likes.
Donaldson likes his .301 average, too, but he was loathe to be taken out of the game after just one plate trip.
Brandon Moss didn’t think he’d be hitting 30 homers, so it’s a reasonable assumption that not too many others did.
But there Moss was in the seventh inning of what would likely be his final start of the season, crushing a line drive to right field that somehow carried over the wall for Moss’s 30th homer of the season.
“I thought `no chance’ when he hit that ball,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “I thought it might short-hop the fence. But he got it out.’’
The homer was all the more remarkable in that the A’s platoon Moss, so that he only plays about three-quarters of the time. When Josh Reddick hit 32 to lead the A’s last year, he did it in 611 at-bats.
Moss did it in 444.
“I don’t care if I did it in 100 at-bats or 700 at-bats,’’ Moss said. “Thirty homers is 30 homers. It’s a nice round number.’’
Third baseman Josh Donaldson said Moss showed his ability to hit many homers in few at-bats last year when he played with the Mariners for about 60 percent of the season and hit 21 homers in 265 at-bats, a better percentage even than this year.
Pitcher Jarrod Parker, who has been on the plus end of plenty of Moss homers, said it was an “awesome’’ performance.
“He’s one of the hardest workers in baseball,’’ Parker said of Moss. “He’s always coming up with the big home run. I can’t wait to see him (in the playoffs).’’
–Bartolo Colon won’t win his ERA title after all.
The 40-year-old A’s starting pitcher came into the weekend fractionally ahead of the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez for the American League ERA lead, both at 2.64 but with Colon a tad better.
On Friday Colon allowed two run in six innings and finished the year at 2.65. Sanchez pitched for Detroit Saturday in Miami and didn’t allow a run in five innings before leaving the game, giving him the title at 2.57.
The A’s started Friday with a good idea of how they’d be structuring their starting lineup in the playoffs.
Then they played the first game of their final series with the Mariners and things changed dramatically.
The idea was that Yoenis Cespedes, who hadn’t been in left field since Sept. 13, was once again healthy, able to throw and ready to man his position. He’d play all three games in left this weekend to get himself ready for the playoffs.
That meant the resurrected Daric Barton was ready to play first base and Brandon Moss, who can play both first base and the outfield, was going to be the designated hitter. He was in Friday’s lineup as the DH, the first time all season that’s happened.
The A’s have had a rather easy time of it this year.
The players have been happy with the manager and the front office. The manager has balanced the players’ needs with the front office’s desires. And the front office has had no reason to complain about much of anything.
It’s not like that in much of baseball, however. The A’s are going to the playoffs. Two-thirds of Major League teams won’t be. One of those is Seattle, and the Mariners made the kind of news Friday that losing teams make entirely too often.
This is perhaps an odd time to concern oneself with the Oakland offense, but the A’s have gone from scoring early and often in game after game to having scored one run in the last two starts.
That in itself wouldn’t be too miserable if it were not for the fact that the A’s face Felix Hernandez in Seattle Friday and they haven’t scored a run off the King in two starts this year.
Having three of the final five games before the playoffs start be games in which they haven’t been able to score much is not the tone the A’s want to set.
NOTE: this was written Tuesday night with the plan to post it then, but technical issues with the posting software cropped up.
Here it is, 12 hours late.
Jerry Blevins limped into the end of August in one of those everything-goes-wrong slumps that athletes sometimes must endure.
The A’s left-handed reliever pitched in five games, had a 6.75 ERA after giving up five runs on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. His overall ERA skied from 3.15 to 3.61.
That was then. The Blevins who pitched Tuesday in Angels Stadium was the pitcher he has most often been the last two seasons with Oakland – concise with his pitches, effective in the strike zone and able to shut down the other side.
Tommy Milone started Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers after having what was, for him, a so-so September.
A year later he’s not even guaranteed a spot on the Oakland roster despite the fact that he is, by his own admission “feeling like I’m pitching better this September than last year.’’
The difference is that last year he was in the starting rotation for virtually the entire season, finishing 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA.
Someone I’ve known for a long time, someone who has an annual vote for baseball’s glamour awards – the MVP and the Cy Young – just asked me who, other than Josh Donaldson was worthy of a “bottom vote’’ for MVP
That would be eighth, ninth or 10th on a ballot that asks voters to go 10 players deep.
I forwarded Jed Lowrie’s name.
“Really?’’ he asked.