OAKLAND – To say the A’s have cured their hitting woes with one good night at the plate is premature.
This team has teased us before, breaking out with a huge offensive night and falling back into silence the next day.
But Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over the New York Mets was encouraging any which way you slice it. Good from the standpoint of seeing two scuffling hitters, Coco Crisp and Derek Norris, swing the bat well. And good from a team standpoint of seeing the A’s jump out to a comfortable lead and maintain it as they halted their season-high five-game losing streak.
[RECAP: Crisp lifts A's to 6-2 win over Mets]
The A’s took the field Tuesday night having been held to three runs or fewer in seven of their past eight games. And though players were saying all the right things about staying positive and seeing light at the end of the tunnel, their body language at times has suggested otherwise.
“A lot of times you can see how they take it in the dugout,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, “guys going in the video room a lot. They can over-analyze a little bit with their swing. But that’s typical of any team that goes through some droughts offensively.”
Crisp, 2-for-23 on Oakland’s 1-6 road trip, was well aware he wasn’t doing his part to help ignite his team from the leadoff spot. Then, in the bottom of the fourth Tuesday, a breakthrough.
He turned on a 1-0 pitch from Mets right-hander Dillon Gee and ripped a three-run triple that bounced just inside the right-field line. That opened up a 4-1 lead for the A’s, and everyone in the home dugout – and bullpen -- could breathe a little easier.
Closer Sean Doolittle said he and his fellow relievers have been trying “all different kinds of voodoo and rally starters” hoping to help jumpstart the offense.
Crisp said he’s also been doing all he can to bust out of his slump.
“I’ve been manipulating my stance, or choking up on the bat, changing my position in the box, trying to figure out something that might work,” Crisp shared.
The veteran also said he’s been studying his stance in the mirror at home. Over the past couple of days, he’s hit on something that’s felt comfortable but good-naturedly declined to discuss it. Whenever Crisp gets hot, his teammates tend to follow his cue throughout the batting order.
“He’s a leader with everything he does on and off the field,” Doolittle said. “Tonight he came through for us when we needed it most.”
Josh Reddick lofted a towering two-run homer to provide insurance in the eighth, but it was also big for the A’s to see Norris hit the ball hard twice after he endured a 2-for-23 road trip himself. Now Melvin just wants to see his catcher get healthy.
Back pain has been affecting Norris in recent days, and it was clear in how he ran the bases Tuesday that something wasn’t right. Melvin said Norris’ back doesn’t bother him when he’s behind the plate, but he won’t be in Wednesday afternoon’s lineup. With a day off Thursday, Melvin hopes he’ll come back feeling better for Friday’s opener of an important three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, who lead the A’s by a half-game for the A.L. West lead.
Melvin would like his team to bring some confidence into that series, and there were signs Tuesday that the A’s might be re-discovering their swagger.
Notes: With Thursday’s off-day, the A’s are skipping Jason Hammel’s next start and have Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Scott Kazmir lined up to face the Angels. Hammel carries a 6.75 ERA in seven starts with Oakland. He’ll rejoin the rotation for next week’s series at Houston. Until then, Melvin said Hammel will try to regain his form in side sessions, and he’ll be available for long relief on selected days when he’s not throwing on the side. … Outfielder Craig Gentry (fractured right hand) is 0-for-7 with a sacrifice fly in two rehab games with Triple-A Sacramento. He served as DH on Monday and played right field Tuesday.