OAKLAND -- With two more errors on Saturday, the A’s have committed six over their last three games and 13 in their last eight. Their total of 18 for the season is the highest in the American League. They’re also 12-5, leading the league in wins.
"I don’t know (how)," manager Bob Melvin said this morning. "I don’t."
To oversimplify, it seems the A’s have been able to overcome some un-A’s-like defense by doing other A’s-like things. Their pitching is keeping the errors from resulting in big innings -- A’s starters have allowed three runs or fewer in all but two of 17 games, and their 2.56 staff ERA is the lowest in the A.L. and second-lowest in the majors. Their offense is the fourth-highest-scoring in the league and has posted the third-highest OPS.
Maybe more key, though, is that as Melvin pointed out: "We seem to be able to pick ourselves up and play better from the middle of the game on. It seems like a lot of our errors are early in the game."
That has given the A’s time to atone for their mistakes, and atone they often have. They already have five wins in their last at-bat -- which leads the majors -- and six come-from-behind wins, including four when trailing after seven innings. Six of their 20 home runs have come in the ninth inning or later.
So if they’ve looked sloppy early in games, more often than not the A’s have snapped out of it just in time -- which seems like a bit of a dangerous way to live.
"That for me is focus than anything else, so we’ve probably been lucky it hasn’t bitten us too bad here recently," Melvin acknowledged.
The manager reiterated today that team defensive work is going to be stressed more, and that he saw where the A’s ranked in errors Saturday morning and "I didn’t feel too good about it." Josh Donaldson, who committed 16 errors all of last season at third base, has a team-high four. Alberto Callaspo and Daric Barton each have three. Even Coco Crisp, who did not commit an error all of last season in center field, mishandled a ball the other day for his first error in 145 games.
"It’s as much about being aware and having a focus on it as anything," Melvin said. "And we’ll continually try to get better with that."
* Here’s the A’s lineup today behind right-hander Jesse Chavez, who has a 1.35 ERA in his first three starts but doesn’t have a win to show for it:
And the lineup for the Astros, who start right-hander Brad Peacock (whom you might recall from his brief stint in the A’s minor-league system before he was traded to Houston in the Jed Lowrie deal):
* Melvin was asked a little more this morning about Josh Reddick, who is 6-for-9 the last two days after starting the season 4-for-41, and said one of the promising signs from the right fielder has been getting a couple hits to left field.
"When you get a little antsy, you try to hit that ball before it gets to you," Melvin said. "So the trick is to let it travel some.
"Even his homer (Friday) was a little more to right-center than you usually see from him. So it’s something he’s really trying to do is get a longer look at the ball."
Reddick said Saturday he has regained a good amount of confidence at the plate from the last two games. Still, he has proven to be a streaky hitter. "Consistency will be the key for him," Melvin said. "And we feel like he’s on his way at this point."
* The A’s announced that Sam Fuld, whom they designated for assignment when Craig Gentry returned from the DL, was claimed off waivers by the Twins. That’s hardly surprising given how Fuld played in his short time in Oakland -- Fuld batted just .200, but his defense at all three outfield positions was solid and included a handful of spectacular catches.
* The A’s go for the series sweep today of an Astros team against whom they’re 22-5 all-time. Mentioned this yesterday but it bears repeating: That’s the best head-to-head record for any major-league team that has played a particular opponent at least 20 times. A win today would give the A’s their best record through 18 games since 1990.