The mood around a team can change quickly in baseball. That’s what we’ve seen over the past few days with the A’s going from struggling to get a victory, to winning two series and four games in a row.
It feels odd to write about sweeping a two-game series, yet technically that’s what we did against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Beating Giants legend Madison Bumgarner in Game One was a great way to get things started, but it was the way we won the second game that was so impressive.
Usually for a team to be successful across an MLB season you need to be able to win games in all manner of different ways.
In the previous three games it was our starting pitching that led the way, with Manaea and Montas setting up the series win in Houston and then Bassitt battling through five innings on Monday despite never looking comfortable on the mound.
The latter wasn’t helped at all by having to hit for the first time in years due to it being an Interleague game in an NL ballpark. The way he grabbed at his side after trying to check his swing on the first pitch he saw was a big concern, although thankfully it doesn’t seem like any lasting damage was caused.
Yesterday’s game was a different matter, with Luzardo looking out of sorts from the off and allowing five runs in 2.2 innings. He was picked up by the bullpen, most notably Deolis Guerra who was incredibly impressive whilst striking out 5 hitters in three score-less innings, and a batting line-up that is now showing signs of really sparking into life.
Stephen Piscotty had been swinging the bat better in his last couple of appearances despite not getting much to show for it, so his first home run of the season was a very welcome sight. Aramis Garcia was able to get a couple of hits that should do his confidence the world of good, and the same goes for Mitch Moreland coming off the bench and getting a pinch-hit single.
But as is so often the way with the A’s, it was the Lords of the Longball who did the main damage. First came Jed Lowrie in the seventh inning for a three-run home run to draw us level and put an exclamation point on a start to his third stint with the team that has already exceeded all expectations. Then it was Seth Brown going down town to give us a 6-5 lead and further demonstrating that he’s got something to offer as a lefty bat who can play a bit of outfield and first base when needed.
With Chapman singling home an insurance run in the top of the ninth, ‘risping away’ thanks to Laureano advancing from first base with his eighth (8th!!!) stolen base of this young season, there were reasons to be cheerful all over the place.
Matt Olson sitting on the bench with a swollen thumb after being hit by a pitch on Monday wasn’t so cheerful, but at least nothing is broken and Brown stepped up in his absence. That’s what a good team does; dealing with the obstacles that come their way with different parts of the team, and different players, picking the others up.
It puts us into a very positive position heading into a seven game home-stand against Detroit and then Minnesota, starting on Thursday. There were plenty of A’s fans in attendance at Chase Field enjoying the two victories on the road, so hopefully plenty more A’s fans will finally get to sing and dance along to Celebration at the Coliseum after the difficult 1-6 home-stand to start the season.