The A’s are in the midst of a season-high six-game win streak and hold a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.
That’s not a coincidence, based on how things have gone the past week, manager Bob Melvin said.
“This is the first time this year that we’ve probably hit on all cylinders,” Melvin said. “We’re playing good defense right now, we’re swinging the bats (well), our pitching has been great. When you go through streaks like this, you try to ride them out as long as you can.”
Melvin’s role at such a bountiful time of the season might surprise some.
“You just try to stay out of the way and not screw things up,” Melvin said.
— Center fielder and leadoff hitter Coco Crisp missed his seventh straight game with a sore neck. He is expected back Friday, when the A’s open a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians.
— It’s not uncommon for A’s hitters such as Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes to face an exaggerated shift when they bat.
It’s part of a growing trend in baseball, where teams amass data on players across the league, look for tendencies and align the defense accordingly.
“Last year, there’s some statistics to back up that we were one of the most successful teams with the shift last year,” Melvin said. “So, we continue to do it. We don’t overdo it. We feel like we do it on the guys that we need to.”
There’s a flip side, of course. How best to cope with teams employing a shift against the A’s hitters.
Of late, the A’s have used bunting and off-field hitting as a means of trying to “get the field back in your favor,” Melvin said.
That helps, Melvin said, but it’s not an antidote.
“As far as the shifting goes, it’s here to stay because there’s so much information now, data that would suggest if you put a guy in the right spot for a certain guy,” Melvin said.
— Third baseman Josh Donaldson is back in the starting lineup, batting third, after receiving the night off Tuesday.
Donaldson appeared in Oakland’s first 39 games. He is batting .261 with eight home runs and 27 RBI.
— Moss has 20 home runs and 66 RBI in 72 dating to Aug. 19. Both figures are second to Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who has 21 and 67 in 78 games.
More impressive, Moss has 36 home runs and 104 RBI in his past 162 games, the equivalent of an entire season.
— John Jaso recorded three hits in each of his past two games. That marks the first time in his career that he notched back-to-back such games.