How to draw inspiration from the lowly 24-31 A's

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How to draw inspiration from the lowly 24-31 A's

How can the A's possibly follow up Monday night's performance? They scored a season-high 12 runs. Seth Smith tied a career-high with four hits -- he was a homer shy of the cycle. Brandon Inge went 2 for 2, with a homer and four RBIs -- in the second inning alone! Cliff Pennington snapped a career-long 0 for 29 slump with an RBI double and got another hit later. And Jarrod Parker, well all he did was throw a one-hitter against the top offense in the game today.When a team that has been so bad offensively and struggled so mightily against the American League West-leading Rangers erupts like that, unfortunately there is no where to go but down. Yet, down doesn't have to be that far. Maybe the A's can find a healthy medium between scoring zero runs, then nine, zero again, then 12. With their pitching staff, just three of four runs a night will do them wonders. Maybe the A's find a way to build on this performance. After all the quiet nights in the clubhouse during the nine-game losing streak (they aren't allowed to play music after a loss) it has to feel good when they are blasting Weezy, aka Lil Wayne, at ear piercing decibels like they were last night. The A's haven't been good. There is no sugarcoating that. But their 24-31 record hides the fact that there are still good stories to tell. Take Tuesday's starting pitcher Travis Blackley, for example. Here is a guy that got released from the Giants this season after spending 2011 pitching for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization. He was picked up as a long reliever, and has earned himself a spot in the starting rotation. There's Collin Cowgill, a guy that was recalled from Sacramento after getting sent down earlier in the season to fill in at center field while Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes were on the disabled list. Both Crisp and Cespedes have since been reinstated, yet Cowgill remains. He earned playing time and a roster spot, and is currently on a seven-game hitting streak. Kila Ka'aihue was claimed off the scrap heap by the A's. He figured to be the first guy shipped out. Now he is the last man standing at first base. Brandon Allen has been designated for assignment, and Daric Barton was optioned to Triple-A. Ka'aihue launched his fourth homer Monday night. Also on Monday, the A's called up left-handed pitcher Sean Doolittle. Last Tuesday he was brought up to Triple-A and was telling me how excited he was to be there. Less than a week later his dream of being a big-leaguer is realized. He was drafted in 2007 as a first baseman, converted to a pitcher this offseason, and in two months, he went all the way from Single-A, to Double-A, to Triple-A, to the Oakland A's.Then there is Josh Reddick, a guy who is having a career year. It is June and he already has 14 homers and five outfield assists. He should be getting All-Star Game recognition, but I am sure A's fans won't mind keeping him their little secret. Reddick's father lost a hand and was declared dead on three occasions after an electrical accident. Today he is a little league baseball coach and is quick to pick up the phone to give Josh pointers. You think Reddick doesn't have reason to be motivated and happy for what he has? Look at the inspiration he draws from his father, and you will know what he is all about. So how do the A's follow up their performance on Monday night? They don't. They just need to find ways to draw inspiration from it, and from within. Sure, they are eight games in the hole to the Rangers in the A.L. West, but they have a chance to make a dent Tuesday. The Rangers starting pitcher for game two of four is Derek Holland. The A's might be catching him at the right time. On Wednesday, Holland allowed eight runs -- all of which came in the second inning -- to the Seattle Mariners. The final score of the game ended up being 21-8, Mariners. As a result of that start, Holland's ERA shot up from 4.05 to 5.11. It is safe to say the mustachioed lefty might still be a bit shell-shocked.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

A new team believes in Stephen Vogt.

The former A's catcher, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The A's announced the transaction shortly before their game against the White Sox.

News of the Brewers making the waiver claim was first reported by ESPN.

The Brewers were the only team to place a waiver claim on Vogt, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogt, a clubhouse leader and one of the longest tenured A's, hit just .217 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games this season.