Oakland Athletics Finding Ways to Win in 2016
By Mark Sigmon
Second Look: The Oakland Athletics Are Finding Ways to Win, Even When They Aren’t Perfect
Oakland Athletics fans got pretty excited when the team rolled into Seattle and swept the Mariners. The A’s came home with great expectations – and promptly lost the first four games of the homestand. A’s fans got a little discouraged. Then, the A’s took two out of three from last year’s World Champions.
This is one fan who is feeling downright positive about this upcoming season.
It was a little funny: the Royals sort of played like last year’s A’s. The first run scored on a dropped third strike to Chris Coghlan, who was in the midst of an 0-20 slump. Later in the game, the tying run scored when the formerly-slumping Coghlan got a double and scored on Jed Lowrie‘s RBI single. Lowrie was facing Kelvin Herrera, who throws a 97-mph fastball. Fortunately, Herrera went with a slow curve and Lowrie pounded it to right field. Lowrie is now 6-9 with runners in scoring position.
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Finally, with Billy Burns – one of the fastest men in baseball – representing the winning run on third, Ned Yost elected to pitch to Josh Reddick – the A’s best hitter – with first base open. Reddick lifted a fly ball to medium deep center, and Burns blazed on home with what proved to be the winning run.
Why did this remind me of last year’s A’s? The first run scored on a passed ball/third strike. It was a crucial defensive lapse. The second run scored when a normally-reliable bullpen pitcher got beaten with his second-best pitch. Finally, Yost’s decision to pitch to Reddick was unfathomable to me. It sort of looked like they were pitching around him, but Reddick got a couple of pitches to hit, and he did not miss. First base was open, with a right-hander, Danny Valencia, on deck. The A’s won the game, but in some ways, the Royals lost that game through physical and mental errors. The A’s lost a lot of games like that last year.
And, of course, it was a one-run game.
Meanwhile, this year’s A’s played excellent ball. Chris Bassitt was brilliant, as he held the Royals to five hits through seven innings. When Danny Valencia made an error in the top of the sixth on a ground ball off the bat of Eric Hosmer, Bassitt kept his composure and got out of the inning. Bassitt picked up a teammate in a game that was very tight. It’s nice to know that the A’s don’t have to play a perfect game in order to win. This team can overcome mistakes.
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Coco Crisp battled the sun and made an amazing catch on a short pop fly to left. Yonder Alonso caught a rocket off the bat of Reymond Fuentes to end the game. Even the ball boy in right was making highlight reel catches. What a difference a year makes! The A’s got steady starting pitching, suffocating bullpen work and timely hitting. Plus, they got a little bit lucky. So I say, it’s time to go to New York and take on the Yankees. I’m getting a good vibe about this season!
Hey, umpires out there… Did Chris Coghlan have to make it to first for the run to count on that dropped third strike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.