Kyle Blanks: The Injury That Sunk the Oakland Athletics?

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May 31, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics infielder Kyle Blanks (88) runs towards home plate after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics won 11-3. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s are a week and a half away from the end of the regular season. The next ten games will either propel them into the wild-card game, or see them staring at the wrong side of history.

But why? The A’s have been dealing with a slew of injuries the past couple of months, vaulting players into roles they are not suited for. Injuries to Jed Lowrie, John Jaso, Craig Gentry, Stephen Vogt, Sean Doolittle and Nick Punto have all contributed to Oakland losing their first-half mystique. Yet, it is Kyle Blanks that could be missed most of all.

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Blanks (1B/OF) was acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert. Upon his arrival on May 16th, Blanks was used primarily against lefties, and gave manager Bob Melvin options with Brandon Moss. For a platoon to work, a manager needs these options.

While Moss is not playing against many lefties at this time, having Kyle Blanks replace him in the lineup would be a welcome addition. The option the A’s have been running with has been Jonny Gomes to cover left field.

With the A’s, Gomes has hit .241 with zero home runs and just five RBI in 55 at-bats. Blanks on the other hand was batting .333 with the Athletics, with two home runs, seven RBI and a .446 on-base percentage in just 45 at-bats. On top of that, Blanks was hitting .300 against lefties. Oh, those pesky lefties.

Having Blanks as an option off the bench in late-game situations would help the A’s combat the series of lefty relievers coming from the opponent’s bullpen as well. In Thursday’s game, Gomes pinch-hit for Moss to face the lefty Michael Kirkman out of the Ranger ‘pen. With runners on first and third, Gomes struck out. He struck out in his other at-bat the ninth inning as well. Kyle Blanks may have done the same, but spreading the responsibility around the clubhouse could help the team from pressing like they have been.

With Jonny Gomes being the right-handed option off the bench, it all comes down to his at-bats late in games. Sure, Nate Freiman is another option, but Gomes is a veteran. The responsibility of a big hit is laid at the feet of one player, and lately that player has not been delivering.

It all comes down to options for a platoon-heavy squad like Oakland. Sadly, the A’s are short on them, and running out of time.

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