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A’s showing opponents that no lead is safe

Jun 5, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

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.

  1. Matt Aromando - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    The A’s should make a bet with the Giants for territory rights based on who wins the World Series. Sure, all things considered it only gives them about a 5% chance at a new stadium but that’s still better than it looks right now.

  2. clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    they score lots of runs and are never out of the game, except when they are.

    Look, they are a good team, but articles like this don’t really add to the conversation. Colin McHugh, Chris young, Hendricks (? in toronto) and other marginal Major league pitchers have shut down the A’s. Its baseball, sometimes good teams play well, sometimes they don’t.

    Really, I’d like you to keep the journalism out of my blog. If I wanted to read stiglich (which I do because I follow the A’s) I would.

  3. deathmonkey41 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    It probably helped them the Yankees can’t hit worth a damn.

  4. plmathfoto - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    May have to rewrite those unwritten rules huh? :)

  5. pisano - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Yeah, just look who they are playing, the only guy on that team that’s worth a crap is Solarte, an eight year minor league player that the Yankees got lucky and took a chance on. Lets not give the A’s too much credit.

    • scatterbrian - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      They have the best record in the league. They have more wins than any other team in baseball since the beginning of the 2012 season. Let’s not give too much credit to the Yankees crappy offense.

      • scoochpooch - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        And A’s play in a mediocre division and have a horrendous playoff history under Beaune.
        Or have you forget that? Oh wait, you just became a fan after seeing their first place in the standings.

      • clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        1)scatterbrain has been a fan for a long time.

        2)mediocre division? a) there are only 3. b) the rangers were the first wild card in 2012 (Angels were either the last or second to last WC contending team eliminated) c) in 2013 the rangers were eliminated in game 163 d) the angels are current #1 wild card team e) right now the west is the only division with 3 teams over 500

        3) playoff history? 6 of their losses were in game 5 of a game 5 series.

      • scatterbrian - Jun 5, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Nice try.

        The AL West has a .519 winning percentage. Every other division in baseball is between .490 and .507 (which is goofy math because it’s still counting games played against the A’s). Without the A’s record (again, goofy math) it is .492. Their division isn’t the reason for their success.

        We’re talking about the A’s in the regular season. Their playoff history — no matter the GM — has no bearing on how well they are playing right now or how well they have played since 2012.

        I became an A’s fan after going to the Oakland Coliseum with my grandfather and watching Dwayne Murphy’s hat fly off chasing flies in center field back in 1979. Is that what you meant by “just became a fan”?

  6. proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Oakland has played very well since they were swept by the Jays.

    • happytwinsfan - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      So this is how Canadians gloat. I like it.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Thank you very very much. You are too kind.

      • happytwinsfan - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        And you are much too modest. The Jays have played very well since they lost 2 of 3 to the Twins.

    • sfp311 - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      I found it interesting in last night’s ESPN broadcast of this game, they mentioned the fact that Josh Donaldson has tried to emulate the swing of Jose Bautista. Had never really noticed it until they mentioned it, but it is quiet similar if you take a look at Josh now.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Bautista’s current swing obviously. I once saw a picture of Bautista’s swing when he first joined the Jays. It was a lot different then and a lot less effective..

  7. APBA Guy - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    The A’s are getting a lot of notice because they are playing the Yankees in New York right now, with both games on national cable. Fortunately for us A’s fans, they are playing well, and basically showing their strengths. It’s obvious the Yankees are transitioning, waiting for their boat-anchor contracts to expire so they can use their financial muscle to retool. As a result they aren’t the team to fear that they used to be. So the A’s have a great showcase to look good, and that’s what they are doing.

    • Old Gator - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Come on Bubba, admit it – Blue Bottle notwithstanding, you’re high on cosmic Kickapoo Joy Juice these days, the stuff in the green and gold easy-pour can. Puff up and let the condescension hang out! This whole thing is cyclic, y’know.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Unfortunately, there days, they just do not make Kickapoo Joy Juice as well as the old timers made it.

      • APBA Guy - Jun 5, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Condescension? I leave that to our neighbors in orange and black. They always remind us A’s fans who’s best :)

  8. psuorioles - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    This doesn’t bode well for the O’s this weekend in their series against the A’s. O’s starting rotation struggles to get out of the 5th and 6th inning due to high pitch counts… I’m actually excited to see this series and how the O’s stack up against the best in the AL.

    • nbjays - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      With apologies to Eutaw’s Finest, as a Jays fan, I hope the A’s continue the hot streak vs the O’s.

  9. scorpiox1960 - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Better make sure someone tells the Red Sox.

    • scoochpooch - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      Yup, Sox are kings of luckbacks – lucky comebacks.
      They’ve relied on them for the last 12 seasons now.

  10. scoochpooch - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    A’s opponents’ leads aren’t safe…until the playoffs.
    I think we’ve read this story many times since 2001. And we know how it all ends.

    • scatterbrian - Jun 5, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Good lord…

      Yes, the A’s lost five Division Series between 2000-2006. Please name all of the players from those teams who are on the current roster.

  11. raysfan1 - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    It bears mentioning that the Yankees were up 4-0 after three last night…and it was in the 4th that they found out about Don Zimmer dying. That had to be a huge distraction for Girardi and Jeter.

    • clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      Yeah, that explains Jeter’s poor play.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        Just saying that the Yankees had a lot of respect and love for Zimmer same as the Rays. Them finding out during the game couldn’t have helped their focus.

        Didn’t say or imply that it was the sole reason by any means.

      • pisano - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:18 AM

        clydeserra….no, age explains Jeter’s poor play, he should have retired last year. The old saying holds true here,” It’s always better to retire one year too soon, rather than one year too late.”

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