OAKLAND — The A’s are displaying some remarkable consistency of late.
Or is it inconsistency?
It depends on your point of view, but it’s a head-scratcher.
With Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the A’s have lost four in a row. That comes on the heels of a four-game winning streak, which was preceded by a four-game losing streak, which was preceded by another four-game winning streak.
It’s easy to see why this team hasn’t been able to gain any sort of sustained momentum to make an upward climb in the American League West standings. The A’s tied the game 3-3 on Khris Davis’ two-run homer in the eighth, only to see the Braves score off Santiago Casilla in the ninth to claim their second victory in as many days at the Coliseum. Oakland must win Sunday to avoid a sweep.
Tough day for rookie: Shortstop Franklin Barreto committed two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs that proved pivotal in this one. The first was a two-base throwing error in the second in which he sailed one high over first base. In the top of the ninth, he booted a grounder off the bat of Danny Santana, who would come around to score on Dansby Swanson’s double to snap a 3-3 tie. Barreto, the A’s top prospect, has started the past five games at shortstop, but it’s apparent why many scouts believe his best long-term fit is at second base.
Impressive debut: With a crowd of about 250 family and friends cheering him on, A’s starter Paul Blackburn fared quite well in his major league debut. The right-hander delivered six strong innings, surrendering just three hits and one run, which was unearned. Blackburn, who started because Jharel Cotton has been pushed back in the rotation with a blister, was born in nearby Antioch and went to high school in Brentwood.
Living by the long ball: The A’s are on pace for their most home runs since the 2000 season, so it was no surprise that they jumped back in the game via a tape-measure blast from cleanup man Khris Davis. The slugger connected with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball from Arodys Vizcaino and crushed it 458 feet for a game-tying two-run homer. Davis’ 22nd homer
A triumphant return: Remember Jim Johnson? The closer who spent a turbulent portion wearing green and gold early in the 2014 season? He’s back in Oakland, closing games for the Braves, and has saved both games of this series so far for Atlanta. The boos from A’s fans suggest they haven’t forgotten Johnson’s struggles three years ago as an Athletic.
Good and bad day for Healy: Ryon Healy went 3-for-3 with a walk for the A’s. But he also fouled a ball off himself that left him hobbling a bit after one at-bat and appeared to take a shot in the left elbow while applying a tag at first.