Programming note: Rays-A’s coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND – Brandon Moss has been through enough slumps to know that they don’t last forever.
That doesn’t make this current one any easier to digest for the A’s slugger. He enters Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays hitless in his last 14 at-bats, but extend that out further, and he’s batting just .170 (15-for-88) with 10 RBI over his past 22 games.
With the A’s struggling as they are right now to score runs, Moss’ own troubles in the middle of the batting order are more glaring, especially after Thursday’s trade of Yoenis Cespedes.
“I can handle a slump. I can handle not getting a ton of hits,” Moss said Tuesday afternoon. “But the thing that frustrates you most is when the team is struggling offensively. When the team is not scoring a ton of runs, and the game’s close and your pitchers are keeping you in it, and you come up with opportunities to help and you don’t is when it frustrates you.”
A’s hitting coach Chili Davis said he’s working on some minor tweaks with Moss, but that he isn’t overly concerned with him.
“Mosser will be fine,” Davis said. “I don’t think he’s that bad at the plate. He’s swinging through some pitches that he feels he should hit. When things aren’t going good, your mind’s racing and you’re kind of in between. But you still gotta go up there and be aggressive to the ball.
“I’m not worried about him. But the thing is, you can swing great for three months, and you have four or five days when you’re not, and it feels like you haven’t gotten a hit in a month.”
Moss, hitting .251 with 23 home runs and 72 RBI, has faced a pretty drastic infield shift for most of this season. That didn’t keep him from thriving in the first half and making his first All-Star Game. When a dry spell hits, some wonder if Moss should try to start going to the opposite field more to get defenses to play him more honest.
It’s a balance between trying to take what the defense gives him on the left side, and not getting away from what kind of player he truly is – a pull hitter with power.
“When you’re struggling you do (think about going to left field),” Moss said. “When you’re going well, you don’t even notice where the defense is playing because you’re focused on the pitch. I’ve seen the holes on the left side and sometimes you adjust your sights and timing a little bit, and that can make you a little late. I’ve done that a few times, I won’t lie.
“Some people say, ‘Just bunt.’ But when you’re hitting fourth, you’re not getting ‘cookie’ pitches to bunt. I don’t want to give away an at-bat by trying to bunt and bunt it right back to the pitcher, because it’s not an automatic hit.”
Notes: Shortstop Jed Lowrie, one of the few Athletics swinging a hot bat right now, was out of Tuesday’s lineup with a bruised index finger on his throwing hand, suffered Monday night. Manager Bob Melvin wouldn’t say if Lowrie was available off the bench. … First baseman Kyle Blanks, recovering from a torn left calf muscle, said he felt good after running the bases before the game. He’ll do so again Thursday and will begin a rehab assignment shortly after if all goes well.