On Monday, the following was written on the white board next to where the A’s lineup is posted daily in their clubhouse.
Slow torture vs. Instant kill
Slow torture is a team approach.
Instant kill is an individual approach.
Home runs end rallies, not start them.
Keep pitchers in the stretch and trust your teammates.
Pass the torch if necessary….
So naturally, what did the A’s do? They squandered a first-and-third, no outs opportunity in the first inning and blasted four solo home runs over the next two innings. For the icing on the cake in the eighth inning, Derek Norris delivered the ultimate rally killer — a grand slam.
The A’s hitters should be ashamed for such a blatant ignoring of team instruction. I mean really, what were they thinking? Just think of the rallies they could’ve had were it not for their power display!
All kidding aside, it’s not as if the idea that home runs kill rallies isn’t foreign. In many cases, it can be true. I tend to think of it as more of an issue when a team is trailing. If you’re down 3-0, you may have a better chance at coming back if you string together a couple of hits, get the tying runs on base or to the plate and then blasting a home run.
But geting a few shots knocked out of the park early in the game to establish the lead is a different story, as are grand slams.
“Any time you can scratch across two or three grand slams, those are hardly rally-killers,” Norris said. “Those are how you bury a team.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin chuckled at the irony of his team’s home run outburst on a day in which that note was posted. He said the talk was more about the way his hitter approached their at-bats. Understanding the idea of working counts, making pitchers work and not thinking they have to do all the damage themselves. Sometimes it can be singles, or doubles that get the job done. But today, “it turned out, we hit some homers.”
* Kyle Blanks had a nice Coliseum debut for the A’s, going 2 for 3 with a home run, single, walk and three runs scored. This wasn’t just his first game with the A’s at the Coliseum, it was his first time playing in the ballpark period. He said a game like this helps his adjustment period to a new team.
“It’s nice to feel like part of the team, just contribute, regardless of what fashion,” Blanks said.
He said he heard a few things here and there about the pitcher-friendly nature of the Coliseum, but never thought much about it because he hadn’t been here. His first impression — on a warm, afternoon game — might skew his opinion.
“Obviously, during the day, it looks like it’s pretty good so hopefully it keeps going,” Blanks said.