Athletics manager Bob Melvin couldn’t name one specific thing that he believed has caused the team’s latest turnaround. He could name many, however.
After coming off a slow, 0-6 start this season, Melvin acknowledged the clubhouse never pressed the panic button. Having the veteran presence of Jed Lowrie, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus helped that a lot.
Now, the team finds themselves topping the AL West in first place with a 12-7 record. After a wild 13-12 walk-off win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, the A’s are riding an 11-game winning streak.
Here are four observations with the A’s historic turnaround.
Look, the A’s 4.71 collective ERA among pitchers isn’t impressive by any means. As a matter of fact, it’s ranked 27th in the league.
Still, it’s a huge improvement. Melvin said the pitching has been a “complete turnaround to this point.”
“Our starters set the tone, they go out there, they give you your confidence, give you your mojo every day and now they’re kind of following each other and pushing each other and trying to better it,” Melvin said last week.
The squad has been consistent.
Starter Chris Bassitt is rumored to be the guy who started the “Riding The Wave” mantra that has been adopted by the A’s. It supposedly began in spring training.
Bassitt (4.43 ERA) and Sean Manaea (3.04 ERA) both are topping out the starters, while Jesús Luzardo is showing glimpses of his immense potential despite an up-and-down start. Just as long as he doesn’t lose those glasses.
The Matts (Olson and Chapman) are back!
Olson alone is putting up terrific numbers this season with a .316/.394/.684 line and six home runs, including some that really came through for the A’s in late innings. Do I hear AL MVP conversations? Eh … maybe some whispers.
It’s the same song and dance for Chapman, who brought in Wednesday’s game-tying run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. His .179 average and high strikeout numbers don’t characterize what he’s capable of. The A’s are not whole without him.
Designated hitter Mitch Moreland has done a sensational job filling the void for Khris Davis who was traded to the Texas Rangers in February.
He has been the reason for two walk-off wins this season and has become a solid clubhouse presence.
In Lowrie’s third stint with the A’s, he’s absolutely thriving. Lowrie has put together an impressive .323/.400/.516 line with 20 hits in 70 plate appearances.
Yep, sorry New York Mets fans.
After two years off, and admitting a “frustrating” time with the Mets, Lowrie got the surgery he needed in October after becoming a free agent and has proven he’s meant to return to Oakland.
He has also served as someone to offer advice with his successful hitting approach. A’s outfielder Mark Canha said he’s picked Lowrie’s brain quite a bit.
Oh, and Canha has a league-leading 20 runs scored after hitting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career. He also has a career-high .414 on-base percentage.
All-around player Laureano
Melvin said the defensive part of the game has had a successful uptick as well.
Elvis Andrus has had some solid plays, but anything near Ramón Laureano gets caught.
Laureano also is leading MLB in stolen bases with eight. And the A’s are tied with the San Diego Padres with 18 stolen bags as a team.
That should cover just about everything.