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A’s have been lucky to get away with a leaky defense

Daric Baton has three of the A's 18 errors coming into Sunday.

Daric Baton has three of the A’s 18 errors coming into Sunday.

The A’s defense has been a miserable replica of its former self this season.

Coning into Sunday, the A’s had made 18 errors in 17 games, including errors in each of the previous eight games, and multiple errors in five of those eight.

Then third baseman Josh Donaldson committed his team-high fifth error in the third inning of Sunday’s series finale with the Astros.

Through all of this, the A’s came into the finale with a 12-5 record, a 1½-game lead in the American League West and the best record in the AL overall.

How is that possible? Teams so error-prone tend to get roughed up because they are putting so many extra runners on base.

   A’s manager Bob Melvin, asked how to square Oakland’s record with the club’s error total, came quickly to the point.

“I don’t know (how to),’’ Melvin said. “We seem to be able to pick ourselves up and play better from the middle of the game on.’’

Melvin has a point. Of the 18 errors Oakland has made coming into Sunday, 12 have been from the first-through-sixth innings. Six of those 12 have come in the first inning alone.

“It seems like a lot of our errors are early in the game, that that’s more about focus than anything,’’ the manager said. “We’ve probably been lucky that it hasn’t bit us more than it has.’’

The A’s had their infielders out for extra pregame work Sunday, infield coach Mike Gallego hitting grounders to players who, because of off days, rainouts and postponement, haven’t had as much time on the field as they might have like this month. No one brought lack of time on the field as a reason for the out-of-sorts defense.

“I don’t like it and I don’t feel good about it,’’ Melvin said of the defensive numbers. “We do take pride in our defense. We are not seeing the results of that right now. You can’t continually play defense like this and get away with it. It’s something we have to be more focused about.’’

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.