It had been a sad stretch for the A’s in the first 19 games of August, winning just eight of them.
So when the Angels opened up Friday with Mike Trout hitting a homer off Sonny Gray, it had a chance to be more of the same.
That it wasn’t was thanks to Coco Crisp. The A’s center fielder, who earlier in the week was finding a way out of a 5-for-43 skid, homered off the Angels’ Hector Santiago and suddenly things were sweetness and light.
Or as manager Bob Melvin put it, “when Coco hit that home run it was like, `all right, we’re fine.’ ’’
There’s been plenty of talk about how much the A’s offense misses Yoenis Cespedes, and it does, but during that long August slide that Crisp was on, the A’s were missing their ignition switch. He’s started to come around lately, though, with three doubles, a triple and a homer in his last four games.
Crisp says there hasn’t been pressure to deliver, but maybe it’s just that the 34-year-old has been around long enough that he doesn’t feel it like some of his younger teammates do.
“My responsibility is to go out there and play as hard as I can,’’ Crisp said. “I try to be successful as possible. Obviously of late I’ve had a little downslide. But you go through those and you try to keep your head up. Trust in the guys around you that they’ll be ready to pick you up. I feel better now the last few days, trying to find a way to be successful.
“As far me putting any extra weight on my shoulders, I don’t think so. It sucks when you aren’t doing well and you obviously want to do so, but I’m just trying to find that good feeling and stay there.’’
He’s getting closer. He double in the sixth inning and wound up scoring the tying run, setting up the A’s 5-3 win over the Angels, a victory that brought Oakland to within one game of the Angels, a team that has been baseball’s hottest the last two months.
Crisp isn’t anxious to take too much of the credit for the A’s win Friday or for being the man who makes the offense work.
“When your leadoff hitter gets on base, starting the game on a positive note, I think that helps the morale,’’ he said. “When you get people on base, the weird shifty stuff that people do, they have to unshift.
“When we go through a tough stretch and they get (the Trout) homer, that is a morale builder. But it didn’t necessarily have to be me. It could have been anybody. Once it happens, it’s OK, here were go.’’
Are the A’s off and running again? It’ll take more than one game, more than one series to know. But if Crisp is back, the odds have greatly improved.