There was a stretch in May and June when it seemed like the A’s offense was first-class.
The A’s got away from that some in July and early August, but in the last few weeks the A’s seem to be back with bats blazing.
Oakland scored seven runs in a 7-2 win over the Astros Sunday, a total that isn’t amazing on its own. But when you consider that all seven runs came home after there were two out in the third inning the picture changes.
There are no runs more difficult to come by than two-out runs, and few teams have had more difficulty getting those runs home than the A’s. But Brandon Moss doubled on a 3-2 pitch from Lucas Harrell to drive in two runs, Yoenis Cespedes followed with an RBI single, and the A’s just kept hitting until Seth Smith capped the inning with a three-run homer.
“It’s hard to score seven runs in an inning with nobody out,’’ Moss said, “much less with two out. Once we got those first couple of runs in, though, we started to put together very good at-bats.
“We’re the kind of team where when we get the momentum going, we can be hard to stop. And we had a real good inning there. Even so, there’s a lot of luck involved when you score that many with two out.’’
Luck or no, the A’s do have some momentum going. They are averaging .290 in the first eight games of September after coming into the month with a .247 overall average. They have gone from averaging 4.48 runs per game to 4.88.
All of which makes Oakland a much more complete team.
“We had one stretch like this early in the season,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “But there is a combination of good things happening now.’’
–Bartolo Colon is feeling better each time he takes the mound. And that makes the A’s feel a whole lot better, too.
Colon has allowed three earned runs (six runs total) in his first three starts since coming off the disabled list. His velocity is up from the two starts he made before going on the disabled list in August with a groin injury, and he’s finally won his 15th game.
“That was the classic Bartolo Colon you saw out there today,’’ catcher Stephen Vogt said. “His velocity was back and his command was very good.’’
Colon gave up a single and a double to the first two batters he faced, producing a run, then allowed the Astros no more scores the rest of the way.
“The first hit was a seeing-eye single up the middle and the other one (an RBI double by Jose Altuve) was a pitch Bartolo just left up,’’ Vogt said. “He didn’t make a mistake after that. He’s the same pitcher he’s always been, but he had a little more command today.’’
–While most of the rest of his teammates had been batting the ball around the park, it had been a while for Seth Smith to make a major contribution to the A’s cause.
The left-handed DH/outfielder came into Sunday with no RBIs and just one run scored in his last seven appearances, during which he average just .231.
Then he came up in the second inning with two on and two out and grounded out.
He wanted to atone, and atone he did. Batting with two on and two out again in the third, this time he tied into a 3-1 pitch from Houston starter Lucas Harrell and launched his eighth homer, turning a handsome A’s lead at 4-1 into a blowout at 7-1.
“That was a big one, yeah,’’ Smith said. “It felt good to put the game out of reach early, especially after my first at-bat when I had a chance to put us ahead and didn’t.’’
Smith said he hit a fastball from Harrell and said he was able to “stay through the ball on my swing, which is something I haven’t done enough of lately.’’
–Brandon Moss has been playing much of the last two months with pain in his lower right wisdom tooth.
He says he’s going to address that Monday morning. He has an 8 a.m. appointment to have the tooth pulled, which will be about five hours before the A’s fly to Minnesota to start their next-to-last road trip of the season.
“I was going to do something about it earlier, but then it stopped hurting,’’ Moss said. “but during the Detroit series (on the last road trip), the pain came back, and the last couple of days it’s just getting worse. So it’s time to deal with it.
“I will be an absolute disaster on the plane. The guys will hate me.’’