Update 2: Back Above .500 (April 17 – April 23)

Record: 10-9 (5-2), 2nd place in AL West, 3 games back of Houston

Bob Melvin can thank beloved Athletic Adam Rosales for the five-game winning streak this past week and for how well his team has been playing on both sides of the ball as of late.

After dropping the first game of the Texas series in which A.J. Griffin blanked the A’s through 6 innings on Monday, Oakland was able to recoup and salvage the remaining two games to kickstart a little win streak. Andrew Triggs continued his dominance on the mound in game two, keeping his perfect ERA and record of 3-0. The A’s were lifeless throughout much of the game, especially after Texas put up two runs in the top of the sixth. However an unlikely hero came up to the plate, a hero that got to showcase his renown, Adam Rosales homerun trot after hitting a two-run shot to left field which essentially put the A’s offense into a groove for the rest of the week. It wasn’t till game three that the Oakland bats really came alive, sending three balls over the fence. A four run first inning was just enough for the A’s and they didn’t look back once. A’s win 9-1 and take two out of three from the Rangers.

The A’s took that energy into the Seattle series the very next day. What I saw that most impressed me this week was watching Melvin and Co.’s will to not give up despite the balance of the game not being in their favor. Everyone seemed to pick up after each other if something went haywire. This was showcased in the series opener. The Mariners jumped out to a 3-0 lead but rather than throwing away any chance at winning the game, the A’s put together a rally with three consecutive singles (one from Rosie) and a double from Healy, knotting it up at 3-3. The Mariners came roaring back as well later on in the 6th to tie it up 5-5 but a Trevor Plouffe three-run jack put it out of reach, eventually winning 9-6. This constant fighting back reminded me a lot of the 2012-2014 teams. Those teams went to the ballpark every day expecting to win, not hoping and that is huge for any ballclub. Manaea had a much needed bounce-back performance in the second game of the series, allowing one earned in six innings. Getting through those six innings was huge in building up Manaea’s confidence according to Manager Bob Melvin. “Still a bit spotty with the command…” said BoMel when referring to Manaea’s three walks. Trevor Plouffe also achieved a nice little milestone as well: 100 career homeruns after his solo shot in the fifth. Manaea would earn his first win of the year as the A’s defeated the M’s 3-1. Cotton also improved on Saturday since his last outing in which he rendered five earned runs to Texas. Another quality start for the Virgin Islands native with six innings and two earned runs. Can’t ask for more than that. And just when the Mariners were getting into striking distance, Jed Lowrie was able to get into scoring position from another Healy double which allowed Khris Davis to knock the short-tempered second baseman into score. A’s win 4-3 in a nail biter. Triggs didn’t have the pinpoint command in the series finale in which we were accustomed to seeing in his first three games. Taylor Mother, the Mariners young shortstop with the flow of golden hair, dealt a heavy blow to Triggs with a grand salami in the third inning, extending the Mariners lead to 6-0 en route to a 11-1 blow out.

The winning streak was nice while it lasted. What can we take away from this third week of A’s baseball?

Positives:

The Defense: Before this week, the A’s were on pace to commit 198 errors. But thanks to a 45-inning errorless streak the Athletics have put together, the stat sheet doesn’t look so bad and we can put that to rest for now. Who woulda thought… when you don’t give up unearned runs and you don’t let your pitcher work out there for longer than he needs to, you win games? Yeah, you do. You can really see this play transition into the dugout as well. I noticed a lot more lively and happier faces.

Graveman and Sonny: Earlier this week Graveman was sent to the 10-day DL with a minor right shoulder strain but is on track to return to the rotation in Anaheim next week. “I felt great,” said Graveman after throwing a successful bullpen on Friday. And some even better news is that Sonny twirled a great game in his rehab outing for Single-A Stockton by throwing five shutout innings and striking out six. “I feel really good,” said Gray. “We got everything we wanted to get accomplished accomplished… It’s a good step forward for sure.” That step forward will be on Thursday when Gray toes the rubber for 75 pitches at Triple-A Nashville. I think Graveman wearing his jersey on Saturday was just the amount of luck Sonny needed. The 27-year-old ace and the solid 2-man, Graveman, should both be back in the A’s rotation by the end of next week to wreak havoc on the AL West.

XBH: Lots of doubles and home run balls for the A’s as of late. This week the A’s had 9 home runs (Rosales and Plouffe both had a couple of their own). The Athletics sit atop of the American League with 61 extra base hits and are third in home runs with 24.

The Closer: Without a fixed closer, it’s sometimes difficult to shut down close game in the ninth inning. During this week relievers have stepped up when it counted the most, 3 for 3 in save opportunities. Two of those saves came from Santiago Casilla which was just what he and the A’s needed; to get a little confidence under their belt for the veteran Dominican right-hander. Ryan Madson also continued his dominance so far in this young season, lowering his ERA to a minuscule 1.23.

Rosales: The spark plug of the A’s offense is what I’d like to call him. Not only did Rosie break his home run “trot” record this week but he also inspired the bats of his teammates. Rosales caught many off guard with his two homers this week… maybe this is a sign for more to come? Let’s go Pizza Boy.

Plouffe: Trevor has found himself this week, just crushing the ball. His .226 average doesn’t speak volumes but it seems that every time he’s came up to the plate he’s had longer at bats and has been more of a challenge for pitchers.  The home run stat may not be most important in determining Plouffe’s success for the rest of the year, but perhaps in how many games he ends up playing.

Lowrie: Every time that Lowrie has stepped up to the plate over the year, especially when he’s in a slump, he always takes exception to ball/strike calls and gets irritable. This week the hot head has really settled down and hasn’t been getting to amped up at the plate. Jed’s worked his way on base via the walk and has been hitting the ball more square, sporting a .276 average with two doubles over the last 10 days.

Healy: 6 RBIs, .524 average (11 for 21), 4 doubles, a couple of walks and a solo blast puts a big ole smile on the faces of A’s hopefuls. Ryon has been on a tear these past seven days and is getting into a groove both offensively and defensively. Watch out AL West, Ryon Healy is coming and only at the ripe age of 25. Does this guy have a nickname yet?…

Hahn: Jesse Hahn has turned Bob Melvin’s head this year at the bottom of the rotation. First by dealing out of the bullpen in a long relief outing. Then by having success in his first start of the year after filling in for Alcantra. And again by churning another quality start for the A’s and earning his first win of the year by allowing one run in six innings. It’s gonna be tough to kick him out once we get Sonny back…

Rooted in Oakland: Dave Kaval and the Oakland Athletics organization teased fans by announcing on Twitter that by the end of the year the A’s will announce a plan for a new ballpark site IN OAKLAND. As you can imagine, the rowdy members of the right field bleachers and fanatics such as myself are stoked to see what will be happening!

Negatives:

Long list of positives this week and hopefully that will be a recurring theme throughout the year.

The DL: Marcus Semien was sent to the 60-day DL after fracturing his wrist last week. It’ll be tough to make up for the offensive production he puts out but it looks like Rosie already has a head start on making his absence not as painful as it might’ve been.

Alcantra: This guy does not have it. I don’t know what else BoMel has to see to finally take in the fact that he is not big league ready. Alcantra was given the the priority to mop up some innings for the A’s in the final few innings of the M’s series finale but decided to go Rick James out there and shit out five runs in three innings.

“I’m Rick James, bitch.” – Raul Alcantra probably

My best bet is that they’ll send Alcantra and Cesar Valdez down to Nashville once Sonny and Graveman return.

Things are looking up Oaktown!

Next Up:

The A’s take to a nine-game road trip this next week and a half and will face off against Houston and Anaheim for the second time this year in two three-game series.

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