Even home runs in back-to-back games and a walk-off hit Saturday night aren’t enough to disrupt A’s manager Bob Melvin’s platoon system. John Jaso sits today against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, with Derek Norris catching and Alberto Callaspo getting the start at designated hitter.
The A’s already have two left-handers in the lineup in Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick, since Coco Crisp (neck strain) still isn’t available. Melvin said Crisp was going to "run around a little bit for the first time" since the injury before today’s game, and if he felt OK, Crisp was going to potentially take some swings in the cage. But there’s still no plan for a return time for Crisp.
Gonzalez, who spent his first four big-league seasons with the A’s, has actually allowed a slightly higher opponents’ average to left-handed hitters (.236) than righties (.229) for his career, but with his breaking ball would naturally appear tougher on lefties. It should be a good matchup of lefties today with Gonzalez opposing the A’s Scott Kazmir, who is 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA to start the season.
Fun fact: Gonzalez made his Coliseum debut and earned his first major-league win on Aug. 12, 2008 in a 2-1 A’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays’ starter that day? Scott Kazmir.
Here’s the A’s lineup that Gonzalez will face today:
And the Rays’ lineup against Kazmir:
"There are a lot of things that play into it," Melvin said. "It’s the first time we saw him down a little bit, but still the stuff was there and he uses all four of his pitches. … If the velocity seems to go down for some period of time, maybe you look into why, but I think that was just one game."
Melvin said he believes "it’s just a confidence issue at times" for Doolittle, while adding that Doolittle recently adjusted his grip on his slider and now seems to be using it to more effect. "He feels like he has a better feel for it now," Melvin said. "He’s actually using it not just to show, but to get some outs, and I think it makes his fastball better on top of it."
It was, of course, four years ago that Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major-league history on Mother’s Day at this stadium. He did so against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays’ starter that day? OK, it was James Shields. History doesn’t always line up that neatly.