BY RYAN LEONG
The Oakland A’s have always been known for having colorful uniforms since moving to the East Bay in 1968. This past weekend represented an homage, not only to the A’s but the Astros and Pirates of the 1970s. This was Players’ Weekend where all thirty teams wore Little League themed uniforms with nicknames on the back. All of the uniforms worn were bright colored jerseys. Some looked out of place like the Yankees, a team that had never worn pullover tops or had names on the back.
Definitely a marketing gimmick by Major League Baseball, and if not for the numerous other occasions where they’ve worn special uniforms to commemorate Mother’s and Father’s Day, Independence and Memorial Day, this might have carried a bit more significance. Still, the players seemed to have fun with the idea and the special duds were a good luck charm for the A’s as they hosted the Texas Rangers, who are one of several teams vying for the second Wild Card. Oakland swept the three game set winning both Saturday and Sunday by identical 8-3 scores
Jharrel “Squeaky” Cotton, pitching in his first full season has been inconsistent for much of the year. But on Sunday he pitched six strong innings giving up only four hits and two runs, striking out nine, and got the win improving to 7-10 with a 5.40 ERA. Apparently, he got the nickname because as a child he rode a bike that would routinely squeak. “It’s just going game by game and trying to get better,” Cotton said. “I’ve found how to better myself and I’m doing that right now. It feels really good and my confidence is rising.”
The A’s jumped out to a 3-0 lead with back-to-back home runs from Matt “Oly” Olson and Matt “Chappy” Chapman in the second inning. No offense but those nicknames pale in comparison to former A’s greats Jim “Catfish” Hunter, John “Blue Moon” Odom, and Jim “Mudcat” Grant. Marcus Semien didn’t homer but he had a big day with three RBI including a two-run single in the 8th when the A’s scored four times to put the game out of reach.
After the game, Manager Bob Melvin, or “BoMel” as he is also affectionately nicknamed said, “We’re just trying to win games but certainly the importance of playing teams that are in a pennant race for us, to gain some confidence is important for these guys to know that we belong here and we can have success against the best teams. It was a nice series for us.”
Oakland next heads south for a three game series with the Angels starting tomorrow night in Anaheim. Daniel Gossett (3-6, 5.49 ERA) will take the mound against Andrew Heaney (0-0, 8.10 ERA) in the opener.
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.