CHICAGO – Sunday's 4-2 A's loss to the Chicago White Sox brought to an end a 17-game stretch without a day off in which Oakland played teams from two leagues, from three divisions and in five cities.
It's the kind of stretch that tests a team, and even in defeat Sunday, the A's passed the test. They did lose the final two games of the series to the White Sox, but they also went 13-4 and briefly moved into first place in the American League West.
Although the A's enter today's day off trailing Texas in the West by one-half game, Oakland players seem to be feeling good about themselves, much more than teams sitting on a two-game losing streak tend to feel.
"It was a long stretch, and we played well over it. You'd take 13-4 over any 17 games," center fielder Coco Crisp said. "I think we're all feeling good. We'll take 13-4, that's for sure."
Crisp's homer in the third inning briefly gave the A's a 1-0 lead. Chicago tied the score on a Tyler Flowers homer in the third and scratched out two runs off A.J. Griffin in the fourth to take a lead the Sox wouldn't give up.
"You shouldn't ask me about that," Griffin said of the 17-game stretch. "I only pitch once every five days. It just seemed to me like I was on track."
Third baseman Josh Donaldson played every game. No one else did, and Donaldson said he was ready to play more if necessary.
"I'm sure guys will enjoy the day off," Donaldson said. "But I don't feel like it's too much time. I feel fresh. We're still playing pretty hard. We're grinding."
The offense was grinding for four days in Chicago more than at any time since mid-May, when the A's took off on a run that would see them win 18 of 23 games.
Crisp's seventh homer was part of a bigger picture dating back to the final game of the previous series in Milwaukee.
Starting with Brandon Moss' three-run homer on Wednesday, the A's have scored 12 of their last 15 runs with homers. They have been able to go deep, but they haven't had many men on base. In the four-game series with the White Sox, Oakland was 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Thirteen at-bats with men in scoring position isn't many over a four-game stretch. No one would say, but that low number of at-bats may be due to tired bats in the waning days of the 17 games in succession.
Still, manager Bob Melvin said his team wasn't particularly tired.
"It's a lot of games in a row, in a lot of time zones," he said, "but it has no effect on playing the game. Maybe you're dragging a little off the field, but not on it."
Griffin, now 5-5, wasn't at his best, but he didn't get much help, either. Still, it bugged him to have given up a double to Adam Dunn that set up Chicago's tiebreaking two-run fourth inning. Paul Konerko followed with a single, Conor Gillaspie added a sacrifice fly and Gordon Beckham doubled in a run.
Notes – The back-to-back losses were the first for the A's since May 14-15 against Texas in Oakland.
Outfielder Chris Young, held out of Saturday's lineup because he wasn't feeling well, was back in there Sunday as a designated hitter and feeling better.