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.
Josh Reddick’s up-and-down offense – it’s currently up – takes a lot of hits in social media.
Josh Reddick wound up on his back making catch to rob Houston’s Jose Altuve of a hit Monday in the seventh inning. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
There are A’s fans routinely looking for his scalp. It’s in part because he hit 32 homers two seasons ago and hasn’t come close to matching that kind of production since, battling an unending series of injries.
And manager Bob Melvin said that no one on the A’s roster hits in tougher luck that his right fielder.
The thing is, Reddick’s game is more than about just offense, although he’s 8-for-25 (.320) since coming off the disabled list, and the A’s would take that kind of production during the stretch run, no questions asked.
What separates Reddick from other right fielders is his defense, which was put on display on back-to-back tests in the seventh inning in Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Houston Astros.
The A’s won’t have batting practice before their 6:05 p.m. (CDT) game with the Rangers Sunday night, so they’ll have to find other ways to fill their time.
Josh Reddick will commandeer the clubhouse television to lock in on the Hall of Fame Ceremonies coming out of Cooperstown.
Reddick grew up in Georgia and was, by his own admission, “a huge Braves fan.’’
John Jaso has been on a month-long tear, hitting.326 to get his overall average to .284.
It can be easy to overlook John Jaso or Josh Reddick in the A’s offense since Oakland has three players with more individual homers than the 13 combined that Jaso and Reddick have.
It can be easy. It just wouldn’t be wise.
Jaso is in the middle of a nice tear, going 17-for-45 (.378) with four doubles, two triples, a homer and 10 RBIs in his last 13 games. Over a longer stretch, he’s hitting .326 in his last 27 games.
Reddick, the man of 32 homers who has been injured much of the last year and half, is healthy now with the help of a knee brace, and with his solo homer Saturday he is 5-for-16 (313) since coming off the disabled list with three doubles, the homer and five runs scored.