Programming note: A’s-Rays coverage starts Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel locations)
After fattening up on Cleveland Indians pitching during a weekend sweep, the A’s find themselves at or near the top of most major offensive categories in the American League.
They put up 30 runs over the three-game series, part of a 10-game stretch during which the A’s have scored eight or more runs five different times. A key against the Indians --Oakland cashed in big-time with runners in scoring position. They hit .350 (14 for 40) in that situation.
“I just think we have guys who are really comfortable hitting with guys on base,” first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss said. “I feel like our approach as a team suits runners in scoring position and runners on base very well. As far as putting the ball in play and getting runs in and getting runners over, we do a pretty good job of that. When we get guys on base, we’re pretty confident we’re gonna put something together.”
Heading into Sunday night, the A’s led the A.L. in runs (235), on-base percentage (.344) and on-base-plus slugging (.765). They were tied for third with 48 home runs, fourth in slugging percentage (.421) and fifth in batting average (.259).
And consider that the A’s have done much of their recent offensive damage without a major contribution from leadoff hitter Coco Crisp, who missed seven games recently with a strained neck.
The middle of the order has delivered in a big way, headlined by Moss. He’s hitting .389 (21 for 54) over his past 14 games with seven doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI. His 39 RBI overall are second in the league behind Chicago’s Jose Abreu (42). And Moss is hitting both lefties and righties of late.
“I’ve been swinging the bat well,” Moss said. “Against lefties I feel a lot better this year. Last year I had some mechanical things that needed adjusting. I tried hitting home runs a little too often, and as a result I pulled off of lefties a lot.”
After facing all right-handed starters against Cleveland, the A’s get another right-hander Tuesday in Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi. They finally face a lefty Wednesday in Erik Bedard, which figures to be the first opportunity to see recently acquired Kyle Blanks in the starting lineup.
The right-handed hitting Blanks was acquired largely to platoon with Moss at first. He can also play the outfield. And with Moss swinging a hot bat, it will be interesting to see if the A’s find a way to work them both into the lineup against lefties on occasion.