August hasn’t been terribly kind to the A’s, so when Chris Carter hit a two-run, two-out homer on an 0-2 pitch, an A’s fan could be forgiven for thinking, “here we go again.’’
Then Josh Reddick stepped up against Tony Sipp, the Astros lefty reliever who was brought it because Reddick and the man following him in the Oakland batting order, Eric Sogard, are both left-handed.
Reddick isn’t much for walks, but he worked Sipp for one on a 3-2 pitch. And just like that, the Astros’ momentum was blunted. Sipp is a decent reliever, but all of a sudden he could not find the strike zone. He walked Sogard. And Andy Parrino. And Coco Crisp, driving in a run.
Later in the inning Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris would each drive in two runs. And it all came back to that walk.
Small things can get ignored, but this walk that helped get the A’s to 11-12 this month shouldn’t be one of them.
“As small as it was, I think it was one of the bigger plays in that inning,’’ Reddick said. “Not to pat myself on the back too much, but you’ve got a tough lefty who is always going to get ahead, so you have to work the count.
“The good thing about it is the next two guys walked on 3-2 counts as well. We made him throw a lot of pitches, hurt his confidence. Four straight walks, two against lefties, that’s huge right there.’’
Reddick has been huge for the A’s since coming off the disabled list on July 22. He wasn’t healthy for most of last year. And for the first half of this season, that still held true. But since coming off a strained knee-forced stint on the disabled list, he’s been as good as the A’s have ever seen him.
He’s hitting .304 (31-for-102) with eight doubles, one triple, six homers, 21 runs scored and 16 RBIs.
The most recent of the six homers came in the fourth inning Monday. He tied into a Scott Feldman pitch and delivered his 10th homer, in one swing transforming the game from close at 1-0 to cozy at 3-0.
“Red has been a huge boost for us,’’ third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “You can see the confidence he has up there. And confidence is a big part of what we did. With our lineup right now, we want everybody feeling confidence, and he’s definitely a big part of that.’’
Reddick, who debuted for the A’s with 32 homers in 2012, said this current streak is the equal or superior of any similar stretch of time since he came to the A’s from Boston three seasons back.
“I would say this is better,’’ he said. “The average shows you better numbers with better production. That being said, the first two months of that year were pretty similar to what’s going on now. This time it’s a higher average and fewer strikeouts. I’m not trying to hit homers, it’s just happening.
“I’m staying within myself, really.’’
Manager Bob Melvin was thinking about having Reddick back second in the Monday lineup, but settled on seventh because `we do like to have someone down lower in the lineup who can drive in some runs.’’
“It’s not that other guys can’t,’’ Melvin explained. “But he can do it with one swing of the bat.
“Josh has been awfully consistent for us since he’s come back, driving the ball, hitting it the other way. He looks healthy, and he’s just going out and playing his game.’’
The A’s could use a lot of that the next five weeks.