Help is on the way for A's offense

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Help is on the way for A's offense

The A's suffered their eighth shutout loss of the season Sunday as they were swept by the Yankees. They are currently suffering through a season-high five-game losing streak. When will the suffering end? Perhaps soon. It is no secret the A's biggest problem is their offense. They have scored an American League-worst 158 runs. After Sunday's 2-0 defeat, their ninth-straight loss to the Yankees, a welcomed face appeared in the clubhouse -- former All-Star third baseman Brandon Inge.
RECAP: Pratt's Instant Replay -- Yankees 2, A's 0
Inge will be activated by the A's on Monday. He is fresh off a two-game rehab stint with the Sacramento River Cats in which he went 6 for 7, with two homers, and eight RBIs. Hopefully for Oakland he packed his bats. "It's not like I'm a savior or anything like that," Inge said while laughing. "I'm about a career .220 hitter, I'm not giving anyone tips, they need to have fun and relax. Hitting is hard enough as it is." Inge will be the first of three A's hitters to return on their upcoming road trip. He will be followed by Manny Ramirez, who is eligible to return from his 50-game drug suspension on May 30 -- which is coincidentally his 40th birthday. And according to Manager Bob Melvin, Yoenis Cespedes could return June 1."It's always a plus when you get guys of their caliber to come back and join your ballclub," Coco Crisp said. "I believe everybody from inside the clubhouse, to the fans are looking forward to Manny being Manny, Cespedes coming back, and definitely Inge. He did a fantastic job when he was here."Previously Melvin said he would take a wait-and-see approach on Manny Ramirez's return. But based on the A's recent struggles, he is likely licking his chops at the thought of how Ramirez -- who has 555 career home runs -- might impact the lineup. "We'd like to see the at-bats get better, we'd like to see him drive some balls," Melvin said. "We had targeted that date for a reason, but based on the fact we aren't swinging the bats in the fashion that we would like, maybe that expedites a little bit." On Monday in Sacramento, A's fans will get a sneak peak at what the heart of the lineup could soon look like. Yoenis Cespedes, who took batting batting practice with the team on Saturday and Sunday, is going to be in the River Cats lineup. Batting beside him will likely be Manny Ramirez. According to Melvin, Cespedes will play three games for the River Cats. If all goes according to plan, the team will use their off-day on May 31 to give Cespedes time to travel from Sacramento to Kansas City.
The big question is if the team will give Ramirez some extra at-bats in Sacramento, and have he and Cespedes travel together. It all depends on how desperate they feel offensively. Even a rusty Ramirez should help."His veteran presence in the lineup is going to make us more intimidating," Coco Crisp said. "He is one of the hardest workers I have ever played with." Aside from the injured players that are soon to return, the A's hitters are pressing at the plate. How else do you explain Sunday's eight-inning, four-hit shutout at the hands of Hiroki Kuroda?"I think we are beyond pressing at this point," Melvin said. "We've got to relax. We are trying too hard we've got to try easier.""Each guy is trying to hit a five-run home run, which is impossible," Inge said. "The more you press the worse you get, they got to go out there and have fun."What could be more fun than adding a guy with first-ballot Hall of Fame numbers, a guy that was on pace to win the Rookie of the Year award when he got hurt, and an all-star third baseman that had four homers and 16 RBIs in his first 11 games with the team? Yeah, the A's likely don't have to look too far for solutions. Help is on the way.

A's call up top prospect Franklin Barreto, place Pinder on DL

A's call up top prospect Franklin Barreto, place Pinder on DL

The A's called up top prospect Franklin Barreto on Saturday morning, giving the middle infielder his first major league call-up with Chad Pinder hitting the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. 

In the span of just over a week, the A's have promoted both of their highest rated position player prospects in Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman, though Chapman himself is on the DL with a knee infection. 

Barreto, 21, is hitting .281 with eight home runs and 32 RBI for Triple-A Nashville. He ascended to the top of Oakland's prospect rankings shortly after being acquired from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade of November 2014. His bat is the strength of his game, and the A's believe he has the potential to be an excellent hitter near the top of the batting order. 

Pinder injured his hamstring in the A's 3-0 win over the White Sox on Friday night.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's skid-snapping win over White Sox

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's skid-snapping win over White Sox

BOX SCORE

The A’s six-game road trip got off to a promising start Friday as they try to reverse their fortunes away from Oakland.

Jharel Cotton shined over five innings before leaving because of a blister on his right hand, and the bullpen took care of things from there to complete a 3-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Considering the A’s came in just 9-25 on the road so far, this was the rare occurrence of them taking control early and staying in control while wearing the road grays. Now the A’s just hope the victory didn’t come with a steep price.

In addition to Cotton (5-7) leaving after a blister opened up on his right thumb, shortstop Chad Pinder left with a strained left hamstring. The severity of that injury wasn’t immediately known.

Here’s five things you need to know from the opener of this three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field:

-- Davis hits No. 19: Khris Davis gave Cotton some early cushion with a two-run homer off Mike Pelfrey (3-6) to center field in the first. It was Davis’ team-leading 19th long ball, but just his third in 22 games this month.

-- Another solid outing for rookie: Coming off a strong 6 1/3-inning outing against the New York Yankees, Cotton again looked in control Friday before having to leave. The right-hander held the Sox to three hits over his five innings, striking out three and walking one. It’s unknown whether the blister will affect his availability for his next start, but the A’s learned with Rich Hill last season how nagging a blister can be for a starter.

-- Ninth-inning nerves: The final score didn’t indicate how tense things got for Oakland in the ninth. Closer Santiago Casilla gave up two singles to start the inning. After Avisail Garcia flied out, Todd Frazier hit a pop up behind first. Yonder Alonso couldn’t haul it in and the ball dropped, but Alonso alertly threw to second to get a force out. Then Matt Davidson sent a deep fly ball to center that Jaycob Brugman hauled in at the warning track.

--- Joyce powers up: In the fifth, Matt Joyce lit into a 3-2 pitch from Pelfrey and homered to center field to put the A’s ahead 3-0. It was the ninth homer for Joyce, who continues to provide some of the spark the A’s are looking for in the leadoff spot.

-- A double ejection: : White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and manager Rick Renteria both were ejected for arguing a fifth-inning play after Anderson hit a dribbler near home plate that surprised him by being called fair.