Although the A’s may not be legitimate contenders statistically speaking, the pieces are there (as usual) to have a solid team down the road, and maybe make some noise now.
Due to weather, the A’s actually did not get to take batting practice on the field before the game. That could have had something to do with the fact that Twins starter Francisco Liriano fanned eight Oakland batters the first time through the lineup.
But the fourth inning was different, and this is why the A’s show promise.
Jemile Weeks lead off with a single, Yoenis Cespedes got lucky when Denard Span dropped a ball in center, Chris Carter worked a walk, and Jonny Gomes actually showed up in this game and went yard on the first pitch he saw in the at bat fromm Liriano.
For a team that looked dismal/silly/young/over matched the first tome through the order, that’s a solid inning.
The fact that they were able to adjust to a dominant Liriano despite a lack of batting practice tells two things:
1) Bob Melvin and his staff know what they are doing. They can motivate their players and obviously know what to tell them when it comes to making adjustments.
2) The team has confidence. They know they can win. This is expected from a young team, and it may not last, but when young players have confidence there’s no telling what can happen.
The grand slam proved to be all they needed.
A.J. Griffin threw a solid game, allowing only three runs (all of which came from the bat of Josh Willingham, who is killing the A’s this year) over six innings while striking out five.
Griffin has notched his place in the rotation for now, but teams are starting to hit him better after his third game.
Only time will tell if the A’s hang on to these promising pieces, but until the team shows consistency they’re just that: promising.
Maybe the A’s are getting a bit lucky, and maybe their confidence won’t be enough to maintain this impressive season, but don’t forget that the 2006 A’s, the last A’s team to make the postseason, sported a Pythagorean W-L of 85-77, but they actually went 93-69.