Programming note: A’s-Giants coverage starts Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND – Tough times hit the A’s just as they do every team. They just don’t linger very long.
On Tuesday, the A’s banked their sixth victory in a row with a 6-1 whipping of the Giants. For a team that wobbled back to the Bay Area last week after getting swept by the Detroit Tigers, Oakland sure got healthy in a hurry.
The A’s enjoyed a spotless 6-0 homestand on the strength of absolute shutdown pitching. It’s one thing to eat up innings and keep your team in the game, and it’s another to do what the A’s staff pulled off. Six games, five runs allowed, an 0.79 ERA.
“You’re gonna win a lot of games when you give up less than a run a game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Once the starters get on a roll like that, they’re really competing with each other and pushing each other. It becomes a fraternal thing among starters.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Gray goes seven strong, A's beat Giants 6-1]
It marked just the 11th time in Oakland history that the A’s have gone perfect on a homestand of six or more games. Of course, with the A’s simply heading across the Bay for two games at AT&T Park, they’re not exactly leaving home now either. Whatever the case, they once again showed the ability to put a rough stretch in the rear-view mirror.
They’ve been swept three times this season. After dropping three to Texas at home, they responded by winning five of the next seven. When they dropped four in a row to close a late May road trip, they came home and won seven of their next nine. And following their three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers, the A’s (57-33) returned to the Coliseum and rattled off six victories in a row.
Their 57 wins are the most for any A’s team before the All-Star break, and they’re a season-high 24 games above .500. It began with the starting pitchers, who set an Oakland record with their sixth consecutive game of going six or more innings with one run or less allowed.
“I think that's what we're capable of as a staff,” said Sonny Gray, Tuesday’s winner. “It might look good on the outside, but on the inside it's what we expect of ourselves. It's just how good all of us are, and it's nice to be able to go out and get deep into some games, not only myself but everyone this whole homestand. It's been big and the offense has been able to put up some big runs for us. That's how you win a bunch of games in a row.”
The starting efforts might seem to be running together, but Gray’s past two outings deserve to be highlighted if only because of how encouraging they must be for Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young. Gray and Young have been tinkering with minor adjustments, and the result has been Gray’s best back-to-back starts in more than a month. He’s throw seven innings and allowed just one run each time out, and he said a big difference has been the bite on his curve ball.
On Tuesday, he also had good life on his fastball to ring up his ninth victory and lower his ERA back to sub-3.00 territory (2.97).
“I think my curveball, I was able to throw it for strikes,” Gray said. “I got my changeup going there in the middle innings. My fastball just had a lot of life on it. Everything felt pretty good.”
As for the offense? The A’s did enough. They got some timely hits, not to mention some good fortune. Their bloopers are finding holes. Defensively, they even benefited from a bang-bang play at first that seemed like it could have been overturned on a replay review, but wasn’t.
Nonetheless, the A’s earned all that came to them on this homestand.
“We come back here and the fans get us going, and it’s a completely different atmosphere and you forget all about what happened previous,” Melvin said. “We put some distance between us and the Detroit series.”