When Josh Reddick doesn’t hit – and too often this year that’s been an ongoing story – there are questions that A’s manager Bob Melvin gets as to why Reddick is in the lineup.
Friday should have dispelled some of those questions. For the fifth time in his last eight games, the rifle-armed Reddick threw out a runner, this time preventing Detroit from scoring a fourth run and potentially blowing open Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
With slow-footed Victor Martinez on second base, Omar Infante sliced a single past first baseman Daric Barton. Martinez got a good jump, but as we say, isn’t fast. Still Reddick came up throwing to catcher Stephen Vogt to get the out and keep the A’s deficit at the time at 3-0.
Oakland would wind up losing 3-2, but the A’s would bring the winning run to the plate twice, which would not have happened were it not for Reddick.
“I’m always ready when anybody tries to run on me,’’ Reddick said. “I was playing Infante to right-center, and Martinez got a good jump, so they sent him.’’
They shouldn’t have.
“It was a great throw by Red,’’ Vogt said. “I saw (Martinez) coming around third, and in that situation they had to try to add on a run. But it was great throw, right there.’’
Reddick’s night wasn’t uniformly great. He went hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times, but none of his teammates did all that much better.
“It’s definitely a challenge,’’ Reddick said. “A tough test. We’ve had them before.’’
–The A’s may be looking to make a change in the lineup for Tuesday’s game.
Daric Barton could be on the bench with Brandon Moss at first base and Seth Smith in DH.
Barton, who has played great defense and hit well for the last six weeks, had trouble with both facets of the game Friday. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts at the plate and two balls got by him that generally he would get to.
The first of the two was the most costly. A first-inning single by Alex Avila with Martinez at second base brought the third run of the first inning home. The A’s were able to score twice, but that third run was the backbreaker.
In the sixth, Infante snuck a single past him, although Reddick would rise up and throw Martinez out at the plate.
“Those are plays Daric makes 99 percent of the time,’’ Reddick said.
Barton said on the first play, he had to make the choice between diving for the ball and trying to stay on his feet to get the ball.
He remained on his feet and “the ball stayed down.’’
On the Infante ball, it was just one of those things. The runner at first base, Alex Avila screened him off the ball and “I never saw it until it was past me,’’ he said.
Heading into Saturday, Barton is a .143 career hitter (2-for-14) against Justin Verlander. Smith, on the other hand, averages .133 against Verlander (2-for-15). One of Smith’s two hits is a homer and, perhaps more significantly, Smith has drawn six walks from the right-hander.
Asked if he was going to make a lineup change, Melvin said, “I’m not sure yet.’’
Melvin defended Barton’s work on defense, saying “he does usually get to balls.’’
“Whenever he doesn’t get to one (he’s) in between on,’’ the manager said, “he doesn’t do that too often.’’
–How good was Max Scherzer Friday?
Moss could scarcely describe it.
“That was just the best stuff we’ve seen anybody have all year,’’ Moss said. “That was tough. He had command like nobody’s had this season.’’