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.
Josh Reddick’s defensive contributions continue to mount.
Periodically A’s watchers will wonder out loud why Josh Reddick is in the Oakland lineup when he’s healthy, almost without exception.
It usually happens when Reddick is the middle of a cold offensive spell. That’s not the case right now, because he’s played just two games in the last three weeks after coming off the disabled list. There hasn’t been enough time to be hot or cold.
Wednesday night was a case in point of why he plays so much. Reddick’s arm, always a weapon, saved at least one run and kept Oakland starter Brad Mills in control of the game. More than that, Reddick made a couple of stellar catches.
He opened the third inning making manager Bob Melvin’s heart race a little by going into the stands in foul territory to make a highlight-reel scoop behind a fan. Melvin saw Reddick’s 2013 season impacted by a play against the wall in Houston, and he just got the right fielder off the disabled list Tuesday. He’d like to keep him around for a while.
The As pride themselves on their versatility and depth.
Yoenis Cespedes is all smiles after delivering celebratory pie to Coco Crisp Saturday
It has seldom been tested more than after Coco Crisp’s game-winning single to beat the Red Sox 2-1 in 10 innings Saturday.
The Oakland tradition after a walkoff it is a ceremonial whipped cream pie in the face during the post-game television interview. It’s been going on for a few years now, with right fielder Josh Reddick doing the honors for the most part.
If Reddick is unavailable, or if he’s the man who’s delivered the game-winner, then Crisp takes over. On Saturday, Reddick was off on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. And Crisp delivered the hit.
So there was a void.
Brandon Moss has become an extra-base machine.
Brandon Moss is doing nothing that Josh Donaldson hasn’t seen before.
Moss hit two home runs Tuesday and has tied Donaldson for the A’s team lead in both major power categories with 15 homers and 48 RBIs.
Donaldson recalled seeing Moss for the first time in the spring of 2012, a non-roster outfielder who’d been signed to a minor league contract the previous November.
“I watched him swing in batting practice, and he was hitting balls farther than anybody,’’ Donaldson said. “I was thinking to myself, this guy can really hit.’’
Donaldson saw more of that power during short stops early that season with Triple-A Sacramento, but it was Moss’ recall from the River Cats that sticks with Donaldson.