Adam Dunn will sit out the start of A’s wild card game tonight vs. Royals
Manager Bob Melvin made one prudent choice (with an asterisk) and one surprising choice in setting his lineup for the A’s wild card game tonight with the Royals.
The surprise is that DH Adam Dunn is on the bench. Brandon Moss, who generally plays left field when Dunn is the DH, is the designated hitter tonight and Sam Fuld is in left.
It’s clearly a move to put the A’s best defense on the field. Kansas City runs as well as any team in the game, and with Fuld and right fielder Josh Reddick flanking center fielder Coco Crisp, the A’s have their best coverage outfield going.
Still, choosing Moss over Dunn is not at all clear-cut. Dunn, whose streak of 2,001 games without a post-season appearance, the 14th-longest in Major League history, will end if he gets in the game, is a career .200 hitter against Kansas City starter James Shields.
Josh Reddick, the A’s best hitter down the stretch, sees a big-post-season for Oakland.
There was no lack of joy in any corner of the A’s clubhouse Sunday.
But no one enjoyed the post-game celebration more than Josh Reddick, who spent the hour after the game running around in his superhero underwear that had shortstop Jed Lowrie smiling, shrugging his shoulders and saying “whatever works.’’
It was a personal moment for Reddick who did as much as anyone to push the A’s over the top. He had 16 hits in his last 33 at-bats (batting average: .485) in his last 10 games to provide one stable source of offense.
It was his triple that scored Brandon Moss from second base in the second inning to get the A’s on the scoreboard, and Reddick scored to make it 2-0 on a Stephen Vogt single moments later.
The A’s had lost two-thirds of their final 45 games before Sunday, but with Reddick pants-less and soaked in bubbly and beer, there was no better reminder that it’s a new season beginning immediately.
How many plate trips can Josh Reddick and other A’s lefties expect to get this week with Angels throwing three lefty starters?
It’s no accident that the Angels are starting three left-handed pitchers against the A’s in a series that starts Monday night at the Coliseum.
There’s nothing much on the line for the Angels, who are in the playoffs as American League West champs, although the more they win, the better positioned they’ll be for having the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The A’s have lost eight of the last nine times a lefty has started against them, and lefty starters have a 2.32 ERA in those games.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin frequently has to leave some of his best power – Adam Dunn, Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt and/or Josh Reddick on the bench to get the lefty-vs.-righty matchups that he wants.
Brandon Moss has the last home run hit by an A’s hitter, on Tuesday.
Whatever happened to the A’s vaunted power?
Oakland’s offense came into Sunday’s series finale with the Phillies having hit just nine home runs for the month of September.
Admittedly there are eight games left to play, but the A’s are in a semi-historic home run drought that even a flurry of homers in the last week won’t cure.
For 20 consecutive months the A’s have hit at least 20 homers every month. And the A’s have been their most productive in recent Septembers, 44 in 2012 and 42 last year.
In the first 18 games of September the A’s have gone deep just once every other game.
That’s just not going to cut it.
Josh Donaldson has struggled along with the rest of the A’s hitters.
There are only so many ways to ask the A’s about their frustration level and if their supply of moxie evaporated at the end of July.
Oakland is simply not the same team it was six weeks ago.
For four months, Oakland had the best record in the game, the best run differential, the most runs scored and ranked in the top five in the fewest runs allowed.
The pitch has remained relatively constant, but all the other numbers have fallen off a cliff, mostly because the offense has gone from awesome to awful.
“We were one team for the better part of four months,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “Then for the last month and a half it’s been different.’’
Brandon Moss was one of four A’s hitters to deliver with a runner in scoring position Tuesday.
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.
Josh Reddick couldn’t have been more frustrated than he was after failing to get runs home in the sixth inning Friday vs. the Angels.
When Josh Reddick flew out to left field to end the sixth inning Friday, he slammed his bat down so hard if his name was Jed Clampett he would have struck oil.
Reddick has been on a nice run since coming off the disabled list five weeks ago. Coming into Friday he had a .299 average since July 22 with eight doubles and six homers.
He would have given those extra base hits all away to have come up with a bleeder over the infield in the sixth inning Friday.
Oakland was in a 2-0 hole after Coco Crisp’s valiant try for an over-the-wall theft of a Chris Iannetta had gone for naught. The ball fell out of Crisp’s glove as the center fielder hit the wall so hard he knocked himself out of the game, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Collision or obstruction? There is an excellent chance that the A’s and the Angels will play down to the final weekend of the season before deciding the American League West.
If that’s the case, I wouldn’t want to be umpire Greg Gibson, whose call against the A’s forced Oakland to play Thursday’s game under protest. If the protest isn’t upheld and the A’s finish one game behind, or even in a tie with, the Angels, Gibson will have had as much impact on the race as any player on either team.
The A’s see it as a potential win denied them, the Angels winning 4-3 in 10 innings. The A’s need all the wins they can get at this time of the season, and being denied one could be the difference between winning the division and advancing to a five-game division series or winning a wild card berth and having to win one game for the right to advance or be eliminated.
Brandon Moss is walking more of late as he waits for his power slump to end.
Brandon Moss walked twice on Wednesday.
He walked once on Sunday in Atlanta and three times on Saturday against the Braves.
Meanwhile, he hasn’t had any hits over that stretch, going 0-for-12 since a single in the eighth inning last Thursday in Kansas City.
The slump isn’t a good thing. Neither are his 21 games without a homer, his worst stretch as a member of the A’s. In that period he has just five RBIs.
“I know I’m in a pretty good home run drought,’’ Moss said, then looking at his two doubles over the same period, he added, “really, it’s an extra-base hit drought.
“I feel like it’s one of those stretches where I go and look at video and I have nothing other to look at than pitch locations. Pitchers miss their spots very often, and when they do, it’s in a count where I’m trying to battle, or they miss to the complete opposite side where I’m looking. They’ll throw away when I’m looking down and in.
Derek Norris’s power numbers skyrocket with multiple men on base
Derek Norris doesn’t expect to hit home runs in the kinds of numbers that Josh Donaldson or Brandon Moss might put up.
He does expect that his home runs will have an impact. Time and again, they have, including Saturday when he capped a 9-4 A’s win over the Twins with a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
The score when he hit it was 6-2, and the extra three runs that made the differential seven runs was vitally important to the A’s in cruising home in this one.
It was the seventh time this year he’s hit a home run with at least two men on base. Three-run homers and grand slams are game-changers, and Norris has those locked in.