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.
Josh Donaldson’s ability to shake off knee injury Friday was a major plus for A’s.
The key playoff Friday’s 6-2 win over Texas for the A’s was a foul ball that didn’t impact the scoring at all.
It did impact third baseman Josh Donaldson, who drove his already-ailing left knee in to the ground in foul territory in pursuit of the Elvis Andrus grounder.
For a few minutes it seemed like Donaldson was hurt badly enough to come out of the game, and the last two games of the season would have been up in the air.
Win or lose the game, the A’s would unquestionably have been sunk if Donaldson was hurt badly enough to come out. He wasn’t and for that the A’s can only be thankful.
“I think everyone was holding their breath right there,’’ pitcher Scott Kazmir said. “He’s a huge part of what we have.’’
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.’’
Felix Hernandez leads a Mariners’ team that is the best it’s been in a decade.
Once the A’s prime competition in the American League West came from Southern California.
Now with the Angels having steamrolled the West while Oakland slumped, the A’s must look to the Pacific Northwest, where the Seattle Mariners would like nothing better than to knock the A’s out of the Wild Card race.
The A’s and Mariners play three games this weekend in Safeco Field.
And while the Mariners haven’t seen the post-season since the world was young, the A’s are facing a team that could either join them in the Wild Card game or knock Oakland out of it.
Derek Norris’s home run swing is a thing of the past for the time being.
A’s catcher Derek Norris was winged by a foul ball Tuesday and needed a few moments to shake it off, but he said afterward he was fine.
He also announced he’s no longer trying to hit home runs. He’s hit 10 this year, but none in his last 99 plate appearances.
His average had been sliding a bit as he got up in the desire to go deep. Since his last home run on Aug. 9, he’s averaged just .217 and his overall mark has slid from .299 to .277 entering play Wednesday.
“I’ve been swinging on `E’,’’ Norris said of his month-long homer drought. “I’m going to leave that to the other guys.’’
Scott Kazmir saw energy in the A’s Saturday that had been lacking for a while.
For five weeks, the A’s were performing a number straight out of Jackson Browne, Running On Empty.
They showed up daily at whatever ballpark was on the scheduled, convinced they were playing hard. But something was missing.
That something showed up again Saturday in a 4-3 walkoff win over Houston. The Coliseum crowd could sense it almost from the time Josh Donaldson led off the ninth inning with a single.
The A’s were down 3-1 at the time. In recent weeks, scaling Kilimanjaro was easier for the A’s by far than putting together a ninth-inning rally.
Celebrations like this May 27 grand slam from Derek Norris have been hard to come by for the A’s lately
The A’s could get Coco Crisp and John Jaso back this weekend and Sean Doolittle back early next week.
When they do, the A’s will start looking a little more like themselves.
This team is not the team it was at the end of June.
Back then they were trotting out a three-catcher platoon, with Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt all major contributors. Yoenis Cespedes was in left field. Brandon Moss was at first base.
Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Brad Mills were all in the starting rotation.
With such a drastic makeover, it’s small wonder that the A’s aren’t playing like they did in April, May and June.
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.
Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer Monday, but his ninth-inning walk had equal importance.
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.