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A’s run differential is a breed apart in the American League

Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson at heart of A's run-producing machine.

Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson at heart of A’s run-producing machine.

After watching the A’s play four games against the Mariners early in the week, you might be stumped trying to come up with words of praise for the A’s hitters.

Oakland scored just 11 runs in four games, losing three of them. The pitching could have been better, too, the bullpen in particular, but it was easy to look at an offense that had trouble scoring runs.

The A’s did more damage against long-time nemesis Felix Hernandez (four runs) than against anyone else the Mariners put out there.

It wasn’t a great showing, but it’s best to have some perspective with such things. Teams don’t live in a bubble. The offense doesn’t exist in solitude. The case can easily be made that the A’s 8-0 win over a tough Washington Nationals team Friday smooths some of the rough spots out of the performance against Seattle.

For one thing, the 8-0 score brings the A’s runs scored total to 174, with only the White Sox and Blue Jays having scored more among American League teams. More than that, the A’s have now allowed just 122 runs, meaning they have a run differential of plus-52 for the year.

That’s not nothing. Oakland simply dominates the American League in run differential. Seattle is second at plus-39. Detroit is third-best at plus-32. The Angels, at plus-24, are the only other team to have scored 20 more runs that the team has allowed.

Brandon Moss, who homered and drove in three of the A’s eight runs Friday, doesn’t much care about run differential. But he does believe that the middle of the A’s lineup, Josh Donaldson, Moss and Yoenis Cespedes, are at their best with men in scoring position.

“I think the three of us set up well for that,’’ Moss said Friday. “We’ve shown we can do well in that situation. Not everybody does.’’

Baseball is about scoring runs. It is also about not allowing runs to be scored. And the A’s seem to understand the concept.

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.