A Friday night rain out looked, for a game, to reinvigorate the Oakland offense — led by right fielder Josh Reddick — but the inability to keep the Orioles hitters from flying out of the yard costs the A’s (14-18) a series loss. Their third straight on the road.
Following the split of a Saturday double-header, the O’s (18-12) jumped all over struggling starter Kendall Graveman to take two of three at Camden Yards.
Fastball (Team strength): Hit ’em where they ain’t
After having defensive shifts hurt them in their previous series sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the A’s offense attacked Baltimore shifts for three opposite-field hits in the very two innings, Saturday afternoon.
Led by a pair of Punch-and-Judy singles to the normal third-base position by lefties Stephen Vogt (2016 .258/.295/.423 slash) and Yonder Alonso (.204/.275/.290), the green and gold put an early run up for road ace Rich Hill (2016 4-3 record, 2.39 ERA).
Building on the slap-attack the A’s took game one of the series, 8-4, picking up 15 hits and five walks. All told, Oakland posted 31 hits in the series, adding 10 free passes.
Considering their early struggles, the plan of attack is something A’s hitters should keep in their back pockets. They won’t, and shouldn’t, use the approach in all situations, but using it in early innings will set them up, as it did against the Orioles, with a defense timid to deploy those shifts late in games.
Changeup (Top individual performer): Reddick (.319/.375/.474)
The three-hole slugger hammered out an unfathomable 10 hits in the three-game set.
Raising his season average from .260 to .319 the left fielder tied a franchise record with a hit in eight consecutive at-bats. The last Athletic to match the feat Dave Magadan in August 1997, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Reddick finished the series with a run scored, along with three RBIs and one walk (in Sunday’s game).
When Reddick stands in the box in the first inning at Boston’s Fenway Park on Monday, he will have a chance to set the team’s mark with a hit.
Curveball (Surprise of the series): Josh Phegley from dish to bump
For just the 10th time since the A’s moved to Oakland, a position player was sent to the mound to pitch. Phegley (.303/.343/.364), who did some fill-in work as a pitcher in college, got the call on Sunday.
The back-up backstop threw 10 pitches (five for strikes) in a perfect two-out relief appearance. Before getting Mark Trumbo (.325/.378/.598) to pop out to end his major-league pitching debut, he used an 86-MPH high fastball to get five-time All-Star Adam Jones (.200/.269/.274) on a strike out, coaxing bows from the regular relief pitchers in the bullpen.
The surprise: even more than the fact that he got a pair of All-Star sluggers out, Phegley featured effective changeups, sliders and cutters along with his fastball.
A full assortment possibly the envy of several A’s relievers who have been forced to ride a fastball to death.
Sinker (Team weakness): Keeping the Orioles in the yard
Led by four go-for balls from Sunday starter Graveman (1-4, 5.74 ERA), Oakland pitching served up seven home runs in the series. The Oriole offense accrued a total of 13 runs on the long ball in the series. The A’s scored just 13 runs in total for the series, hitting only one homer.
Slider (Poor performing individual): Graveman
Since starting his season with a 1-1 record, with a 2.04 ERA, through his first three starts Graveman has failed to get through the fifth in each of his last three — lasting just 2-2/3 on Sunday.
With Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00 ERA) pushing to earn his way back into the the rotation and Henderson Alvarez (career 27-34 record, 3.80 ERA) in the advanced stages of a rehab assignment, Graveman may be pitching for his major-league life. Not only are Hahn and Alvarez threats to his spot, the A’s had scouts present at a talent showcase for Tim Lincecum (108-83, 3.61 ERA) on Friday.
The A’s now have a short trip to Boston, where they will face the Red Sox (18-13) for three, beginning with a Monday matchup of scuffling right-handers Sonny Gray (3-3, 4.84 ERA) and Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.71 ERA).