Brandon Moss didn’t believe he could get much more frustrated in one game than he did in the first eight innings Tuesday.
The A’s right field flew out to left field four times. And the words “flew out’’ scarcely describe the at-bats.
“It had been a pretty frustrating day for me so far; I hit four straight weak, weak popups to the left,’’ Moss said. “ Two of them should have been to the shortstop. It hadn’t been a very good day until the last at-bat.’’
Moss had a career-best 10-game hitting streak come to an end Sunday. Since the single that got him to double digits, he’d gone hitless in 14 consecutive at-bats before coming up in the ninth. He was given the chance because Yoenis Cespedes’ single to right fell in to tie the game.
To that point Moss had left four men on base, three of them in scoring position.
“It was a bad, bad night,’’ he said.
Bad, but salvageable. Matched up against lefty Tony Sipp, Moss looked at two pitches, then clubbed the 2-0 pitch barely foul down the right field line. It was a loud, long strike.
“Sometimes when you do that, the ball will stay true,’’ he said. “Sometimes it will hook. This one had a bit of a hook.’’
Rather than giving in to frustration, Moss dug in.
“So I was just trying to battle and stay on the ball a little bit,’’ he said. “You know, get on base if I could. And if I got a good pitch to hit, hit it hard.’’
The Astros, like virtually every other big league team, knows about Moss’s penchant for pulling balls to the right side. So they brought shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to the second base side of the bag and moved second baseman Jose Altuve deep onto the right field grass. The idea is that Moss hits the ball hard, so hard that even from medium-deep right field Altuve could throw him out if he got the ball.
It was a good idea. But Moss has mastered beating the shift enough of the time to know that he had a chance if he hit the ball well. He did. Altuve got a quick reaction, but not quick enough to deny Moss a go-ahead single.
“It was a great at-bat for Moss,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “He had a good swing at that 2-0 slider, but I knew right off the bat it was foul.
“I don’t think he thinks much about it. He knows he has the potential to bunt one. But he’s just trying to square one up. And when he does, there usually isn’t a ballpark that can hold him.’’
Moss didn’t get this one in the air. But he did square it up.
“I’d rather talk about that at-bat than those four straight popups,’’ Moss said. “I was pissed. I was balanced and seeing the ball well, but when I was swinging, I could just feel the barrel (of the bat) drag through the strike zone. I mean I was really irritated.
“Now I can go to bed with a good taste in my mouth.’’