The stage was set for one of those patented A’s comebacks Friday night.
Coco Crisp doubled with two outs in the ninth. He stole third, putting his team within 90 feet of tying the game.
It didn’t happen.
Jed Lowrie grounded out to second, and the curtain fell on Oakland’s 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays to open a three-game series. Not long ago, everything was falling into place for the A’s offensively. Runs came by the bushel.
The pendulum has swung back the other way. A couple days ago the A’s were the hottest team in the majors. Now that title belongs to the team in the opposing dugout this weekend, as the Blue Jays have won eight of their past 10 and command first place in the American League East.
Here’s a few observations on Oakland’s recent offensive funk:
- We’re seeing how important it is to have Crisp getting on base and jumpstarting the attack.
When the A’s were hitting the cover off the ball over that 10-game stretch that culminated with a sweep of Cleveland, it was somewhat surprising that they pulled it off with minimal contribution from Crisp, who missed seven games with a neck injury. That doesn’t figure to work over the long haul.
In losses the past two days to Tampa Bay and Toronto, the switch-hitting leadoff man has reached base in just three of 10 plate appearances. When he starts getting on with regularity, chances are the A’s will start clicking again at the plate.
- No. 3 hitter Josh Donaldson has come back down to earth.
He’s at the center of so much that goes right for the A’s. But over the past four games, Donaldson is 2 for 13 with five walks and five strikeouts. He swung through fastballs for strike three in each of his first two at-bats Friday, then drew a walk and popped out with a runner on in the eighth in his final at-bat.
The A’s need their third baseman to get his swagger back.
- Kyle Blanks is still figuring out how to fit in with his new club.
He drew his second start Friday in seven games since being acquired from San Diego, and he grounded into two double plays and struck out among his four plate appearances. One of those double plays came in the seventh, squelching a rally after the first two batters of the inning reached base.
Blanks was inserted as the DH on Friday against right-hander Liam Hendriks only after John Jaso was scratched as a precaution with what was described as general body tightness. Blanks was acquired largely to start against lefties, and in a small sample size has yet to make his presence felt.
You get the sense it might take just one good game for Blanks to relax and find his comfort zone with his new team.
- One injury update for you: Nick Punto, who started at second base Friday, injured his calf during his final at-bat and is considered doubtful for Saturday’s matinee matchup.
Figure Eric Sogard will return to second base against Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.