There’s no masking the fact that the A’s lost again Tuesday, their second game of September looking very much like two-thirds of their games in August.
The A’s didn’t score for seven innings, which is the norm of late. But then something happened that was unexpected. They knocked Mariners’ starter James Paxton out of the game and came up with enough big hits to get the winning run to the plate in the ninth before losing, 6-5.
Oakland wound up with four hits with men in scoring position, all of them in the eighth and ninth innings.
Adam Dunn singled with men on first and third in the eighth.
Craig Gentry doubled with man on second and third in the eighth.
Brandon Moss doubled with a man on second in the ninth.
And Sam Fuld doubled with Moss on second in the ninth.
Yes, the game was a loser, but when the four hits with runners in scoring position are added to Monday’s four hits with men in scoring position, that suggested a major shift in the A’s offense attack.
It took the A’s the last 10 games of August to get eight hits with men in scoring position. During that time they went 8-for-64, a .125 average with men at second or third.
More than that, Oakland was in position to pull it out at the end when Josh Reddick grounded out to end it. It was the kind of spirited push in the eighth and ninth inning with which the A’s built themselves into a force in the first three months of the season.
Just like Tuesday, the A’s didn’t always win the game when closing with a rush. But if the club is going to get back to being in a position where they’re going to hit often enough to get into contention, history suggests they’re going to win more than their share.
And that has to be balanced out with the first seven innings when the A’s looked as incapable of scoring as they had in being swept by the Angels over the weekend, a four-game series that had manager Bob Melvin closing the doors Sunday afternoon and dressing down the kind of at-bats the A’s had been getting.
While things almost never get better for an offense that has to face Felix Hernandez, which is the case for the A’s in the series finale Wednesday, the A’s have scored 10 runs off him in four starts this year. It may not sound like much, but Oakland reached him for only three runs last year, so there’s that.