OAKLAND -- Last year, the A's launched an incredible 227 home runs, the third-most of any team in baseball. However, Oakland experienced a bit of a power outage early this season.
Between April 15 and May 12, a span of 23 games, the A's hit just 15 homers, the second-fewest in the majors over that stretch. But on their most recent road trip, Oakland found its power once again, belting 21 home runs in nine games.
So what changed?
"We started to have more competitive at-bats," said A's hitting coach Darren Bush. "We were driving them up starters' pitch counts. Guys were fouling off pitches and getting better pitches to hit, one through nine. Once you start doing that, they have to make more pitches and they're going to make mistakes, and we were taking advantage of them."
Catcher Josh Phegley agreed with Bush's assessment, reiterating the importance of patience at the plate.
"I think you see those power numbers start to go up when we're a little more patient and make pitchers work," he said. "I felt like we saw some guys who threw some breakers, but we laid off of them off the plate and made them come to us in hitter's counts and got some fastballs to hit."
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the A's road power surge was that they did it with an injured Khris Davis. Oakland's top slugger did account for two of the 21 home runs while battling a left hip/oblique contusion, but it was Mark Canha who led the way with five.
"Canha basically did what KD does for us," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It kind of felt like having KD there, even though we're obviously going to miss him. But we've seen Mark Canha do this in the past where he gets an opportunity and he produces, and you get him consistent at-bats and he hits home runs."
Canha has caught fire since returning from a sprained right wrist, tallying five homers and 10 RBI in just eight games.
"It's nice to see the results and the homers," he said. "It's a fun way to play. It's kind of counterintuitive, I think. I think that you have to approach it backward. We got back to having good approaches, swinging at strikes, working counts and stuff like that, and the home runs just showed up."
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Oakland now has nine different players with at least five home runs, and that doesn't even include Matt Olson, who has four since returning from a hand injury. Clearly, there are no easy outs in the A's lineup, something Bush takes great pride in.
"You've got to get in there and fight for every pitch," he said. "If they make pitches, you have to find a way to battle and fight them off because they will make mistakes. But they're not just going to give in. You have to earn it."