Brandon Moss

A’s showing opponents that no lead is safe


Trailing in a game does little to affect the Oakland A’s right now.

They’re operating with supreme offensive confidence, able to overcome deficits with a combination of power, plate discipline and sheer tenacity with each individual at-bat.

It was on display again Wednesday, when they trailed at Yankee Stadium for the second straight night only to come back and notch a victory. This one ended 7-4, as the A’s erased a 4-1 New York lead and ran their winning streak to five games.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: A’s crush it at the plate, beat Yankees 7-4]

In the majors’ most high-profile market, the A’s (37-22) are showing just how they’ve built the American League’s best record. They’re so diverse in the way they can score runs, and that provides a sense that they’re never really out of a game.

To be sure, Oakland’s big boppers have delivered in the first two games of this series. Brandon Moss hit two homers in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory. Yoenis Cespedes added two more Wednesday and Josh Donaldson’s solo shot in the seventh snapped a 4-4 tie.

But it hasn’t just been about the power. The A’s grind out at-bats and draw walks, running up the pitch count and whittling down a pitcher’s patience. Alberto Callaspo didn’t notch a hit in five plate appearances Wednesday, but he turned in two of the most important trips to the plate in the game.

Leading off the fifth, he fell behind 0-2 to Yankees starter Vidal Nuno but battled back for a walk. Callaspo eventually came around to score on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly to cut the A’s deficit to 4-2.

His next at-bat came with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, with Oakland trailing 4-3. He engaged Matt Thornton in a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five consecutive pitches at one point, before lofting a sacrifice fly that tied the game.

That’s been a trait of Callaspo’s in recent games, and it’s winning the switch hitter playing time, whether it’s at first base, second base or designated hitter, as was the case Wednesday.

A’s manager Bob Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis talk a lot about “passing the baton” and not trying to do too much, allowing teammates to be the heroes. It can sound cliché and hokey, but it also rings true in so many games with the A’s, who lead the majors with 315 runs scored (5.34 per game).

Six different players drove in runs Wednesday, and five different ones scored themselves.

By winning the first two of this three-game series, the A’s go into Thursday’s finale gunning for the sweep against tough right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but knowing they’ve already captured a series to begin this nine-game road trip.

No doubt, there was more to Wednesday’s story than offense. Right-hander Jesse Chavez shook off a three-run homer he allowed to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning and lasted through six. He left things in the hands of a bullpen that has yet to allow a run in 6 2/3 innings this series.

Chavez’s defense also came through for him on his very first hitter, when center fielder Craig Gentry raced into the alley in left-center and made a fearless diving grab to rob Brett Gardner.

It helps when all components of your team are contributing to wins. It also helps when you’ve got so many ways to jump back into a ballgame, as A’s opponents are learning all too well.

Photo of the Day: Colby Rasmus just wants to love on everybody

Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus hit a big home run last night to set off the scoring and to set the tone for the Astros.

After the game he spoke to Jeff Passan of Yahoo and voiced some nice perspective and maturity as well, acknowledging that his time and St. Louis and Toronto left him with a reputation that he’d rather not have follow him around forever, saying “I don’t want them to say Colby Rasmus was a piece of crap because he had all of this time and just wanted to be a douche. I just try to love on everybody.”

Fair. By the way, this is what Rasmus looked like either just before or just after telling reporters that he “just tries to love on everybody.”


Ready for some lovin’?

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.