Josh Reddick said he thinks he tweaked his back racing into the Indians’ bullpen in the top of the fifth inning Sunday to make a catch. But he didn’t start feeling pain until he jogged off the field after the inning.
“Every time my foot would hit the ground, it kind of would sting a little,” Reddick said.
The A’s replaced Reddick with a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth – Mark Canha, who wound up getting the walk-off hit in the A’s 2-1 win over Cleveland on Sunday – but were optimistic after the game that Reddick wouldn’t miss more than a game with what was announced as lower back tightness.
Manager Bob Melvin said Reddick likely won’t play in Monday’s series opener against Baltimore and is “day-to-day.”
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“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Melvin said. “Maybe doubtful tomorrow, but I don’t think enough to where we have to worry about it long-term.”
Reddick also didn’t sound too worried, saying his back already felt better after getting treatment and ice, and that he hopes to play Tuesday.
“Nothing serious,” Reddick said. “Hopefully it’s something that’s just day-to-ay.”
The early exit meant Reddick wasn’t in the dugout for Canha’s hit, and thus did not give Canha the traditional whipped cream pie in the face for his walk-off heroics. A’s catcher Stephen Vogt delivered the pie instead, and Billy Butler and Brett Lawrie doused Canha with a Gatorade shower.
Reddick, along with the entire clubhouse, was upbeat following the win, which allowed the A’s to split their series with Cleveland after losing the first two games while totaling three hits.
“Totally different team, wasn’t it?” Reddick said.
As for Sunday, Reddick said he went back and watched the fifth-inning catch and thought he’d isolated the point where he aggravated the back.
“From what I gather, it looked like it happened from me avoiding the ballboy, who didn’t move one bit,” Reddick said. “Gotta have a little talk with him.”
▪ Sonny Gray admittedly was not at his best Sunday, which was evident from a first inning in which he walked two batters and gave up a run on a sacrifice fly. At one point in the third, Gray had thrown nearly as many balls as strikes. Yet both in the first and overall, Gray limited the damage and got better later to hold the Indians to one run in seven innings.
“This wasn’t his best-feeling day,” Melvin said. “But that’s what great pitchers do, is they find a way to get it done when they don’t have their best stuff.”
Gray said he had more movement than usual on his pitches, which likely contributed to his control issues. He pitched with runners on in every inning except the seventh, but he induced three double plays – two of them 6-3 double plays nicely turned by shortstop Marcus Semien – and held Cleveland to four hits.
Melvin said he didn’t want to send Gray back out for the eighth inning – based on his having thrown nine innings in his last outing and his control issues Sunday – and Gray said he didn’t argue.
“If you watched the game, it was kind of every inning was a battle, and they were pretty high-intensity pitches,” Gray said. “(Melvin) asked me how I was and I was like, ‘Pretty gassed.’ He said, ‘I can tell; let’s go to the bullpen.’ They came in and shut them down.”
Despite his issues, Gray lowered his ERA to 2.12, second lowest in the American League behind his former teammate Scott Kazmir, and has a 0.97 ERA in eight day games this year.
“He was battling himself,” Melvin said. “But again, when you don’t have your best stuff and you hold the other team to one run, it means you’re a pretty good pitcher.”
▪ After Gray exited, the A’s received three scoreless innings from their bullpen. Fernando Abad recorded four outs and has now gone 10 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, lowering his ERA to 3.23. As Melvin pointed out, Sunday was Abad’s fourth outing in five days, and sending Abad out to start the ninth after getting the final two outs of the eighth was “asking a lot.”
“Fernando was amazing,” Melvin said. “He’s pitching with a lot of confidence right now, in the fashion we’ve seen in the past. His timing’s good. We need him right now and he’s … really responded and pitched well here recently.”
Fernando Rodriguez also danced out of a jam in the 10th, after the Indians put runners on first and second with one out on a disputed play. With Michael Bourn on first, Mike Aviles hit a grounder to second baseman Eric Sogard, who tried to tag Bourn as he ran by but missed. The A’s tried to argue Bourn had left the baseline, but after the umpire crew huddled for a minute, they ruled Bourn safe at second.
“They said (Bourn) started to make his new path once Sogard was going to field the ball, and therefore (he got) a little bit more room,” Melvin said. “Once (Bourn is) getting out of his way to field the ball, he creates a new baseline.”
Rodriguez retired Lonnie Chisenhall on a fielder’s choice and, after a wild pitch gave the Indians men on second and third with two outs, struck out Francisco Lindor to end the inning and preserve the tie.
▪ After a difficult July, during which they lost several veterans to trades and finished with a 10-14 record, the A’s have started August with consecutive wins and had a noticeably lighter atmosphere in the clubhouse following Sunday’s win. Melvin said the way this series ended should reinforce the idea that the A’s, despite their last-place standing and the front office shifting its focus beyond this season, still need to compete.
“That’s really the message – everybody has something to play for here, whether it’s the team, whether it’s a player,” Melvin said. “(Circumstances) shouldn’t change the intensity of what we’re doing. Certainly the personnel is a little different, but our mindset and our effort should not change.”
Next up for the A’s is a three-game series against the Orioles. The pitching probables:
Monday: RHP Jesse Chavez (5-10, 3.53) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (8-7, 4.35)
Tuesday: RHP Chris Bassitt (0-4, 3.10) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (9-7, 4.28)
Wednesday: RHP Kendall Graveman (6-7, 3.84) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-6, 3.24)