BY RYAN LEONG
The A’s always seem to get off to slow starts. Granted, they’ve been a rebuilding franchise and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013. A never ending list of trades always tests the patience of the small but loyal fan base. And those die-hards have to be content that trading away future superstars for young prospects continues this vicious cycle.
However, this offseason, the team restructured. Out was Lew Wolff, the college buddy of former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and team president Michael Crowley. Enter new president Dave Kaval who was the president of the San Jose Earthquakes MLS soccer team.
In their second homestand with the tarps removed from the upper deck and spruced up plaza level with food trucks, the A’s tweeted that they’d announce a future ballpark location in Oakland with the Raiders and Warriors moving out of the Coliseum Complex.
After a season-high four game skid, the A’s then went on a five-game win streak thanks in part to strong defense, solid pitching, and timely hitting, always the recipe for success in baseball. After the streak, the A’s are 10-9 and the only other team besides the 13-9 Astros that are posting a winning record in the American League West.
“I’m OK with where we are right now,” said Manager Bob Melvin following the nine game homestand. “We’re playing better right now than we were early on. I think it’s a little early to assess who you are but guys are grinding everyday. The defense was poor early on.
“It’s picked up a little bit. Everything’s picked up a little bit so I think we probably need a little more time to figure out overall who we are as a team but recently we’re good. I mean guys are kind of bonding together, the new guys and it’s a good feel. Everybody’s supporting each other.”
On the upcoming road trip through Anaheim, Houston, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, the A’s expect to get two of their key starting pitchers back from injury. Kendall Graveman (strained right shoulder) should be back to pitch against the Angels and Sonny Gray (strained right shoulder) to get the ball vs. the Twins. The A’s also have been playing without lead off man Rajai Davis who has missed the last three games with a sore hamstring.
But looking back on the homestand, catcher Stephen Vogt was happy with the results.
“It was a great homestand,” Vogt said. “5-4 with a five game winning streak in there. There’s a lot to be happy about. We’re playing good baseball right now. We’re happy where we are going into the road trip. I think you look at all three sides: pitching, offense, and defense and we were doing what we’ve done, all three of those, very, very well this homestand. This team has the capabilities of doing that at any point. We really like this team and we like our lineup, defense, and our pitching so we’re very pleased.”
The A’s have gone the last five games without commmitting an error after going 11 straight games with at least one miscue. Second baseman Jed Lowrie also had a 72-game errorless streak, the third-longest streak for fielding excellence in Oakland history.
The A’s are now going to be away until Cinco de Mayo when they host the Detroit Tigers to kickoff a six game homestand.
For the first game of the upcoming road trip it’ll be Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00) opposed by the Angels Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76) on Tuesday.
Ryan Leong is a San Francisco native and covers all Bay Area sports teams as a correspondent for ESPN radio and wire services. He is a former sports anchor for KCBS and has reported on over 3,600 live games since 1998.