Oakland Athletics: Billy Butler Has Good Game Against Texas


The Oakland Athletics haven’t seen many results from Billy Butler, but on Monday, he and the rest of the team played exactly how the A’s front office must have dreamed they would.

If there ever was a game that went almost exactly the way Oakland Athletics’ Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Billy Beane and general manager David Forst envisioned a game to go, it was Monday night’s game against the Texas Rangers. Everything went according to plan for the Oakland Athletics.

First, they had Sean Manaea – acquired from the Kansas City Royals as part of the Ben Zobrist deal – pitching effortlessly and effectively against one of the most prolific offenses in the American League. Then in the fourth inning, they had Billy Butler – a free agent signee – battling and fighting off pitches until he was able to get a two-out single to drive in a key run.

Marcus Semien – acquired from the White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal – blasted his tenth home run of the season to straightaway centerfield for a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Finally, what A’s fans are hoping will be a “three-headed monster” in the bullpen worked magnificently. Sean Doolittle stepped up and struck out Bobby Wilson on four pitches with the tying run on second. John Axford worked the eighth to set up Ryan Madson, who picked up his 11th save of the season. Beane and Forst could not have drawn it up any better.

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It is safe to say that Billy Butler has failed to live up to the expectations of A’s fans. I myself have been pretty critical of Butler’s propensity to ground into double plays. Last night, however, he had a very good game. Butler played first base, and he made a nice running catch on a short pop fly in foul territory. He also snagged a couple of wide throws at first. His RBI single in the fourth was key to winning the game. Even when he made an out, Butler hit the ball hard. That is what the A’s envisioned when they signed him.

Derek Holland was the first of three lefties the A’s will see from the Texas Rangers. With Butler at first base and switch hitters Coco Crisp and Billy Burns in the outfield, A’s manager Bob Melvin was able to stack the lineup with eight right-handed bats.

Maybe playing Butler at first was all about getting another right-handed bat in the lineup – or maybe the A’s are showcasing Butler and demonstrating to National League clubs that he can do more than simply DH. Whatever the case may be, Butler looked spry and enthusiastic. If he is a little disgruntled at a lack of playing time, it sure didn’t show up in Monday’s game. It would be terrific if Butler could be the player he was for the Royals in 2014.

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Josh Reddick, and Stephen Vogt are productive left-handed hitters. Yonder Alonso is starting to figure out American League pitchers and he is hitting the ball a lot better. With Davis, Semien, and Danny Valencia, the A’s have surprising power from the right side. If Butler can get his bat going against lefties, the Oakland Athletics will have a pretty potent lineup, especially when Jed Lowrie comes back.

Then everything will be going according to the master plan. Of course, that’s a pretty big “if.”