On their seven-game road trip on the East Coast that shifts from Baltimore to Tampa, the Oakland Athletics have made Major League Baseball history by having faith in themselves.
On Monday night in Tampa, the history-making A’s open a four-game series against the Rays in the first of seven meetings between the American League clubs.
Oakland dropped its first six games to start 2021, losing four straight to Houston and the first two of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers — all at home.
Undeterred, they reeled off 13 straight victories beginning on April 9. The streak ended Sunday with an 8-1 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore.
Earlier last week, the A’s became the first club ever to start a season with six losses and then win 11 consecutive games at any point in that season.
“You know, we got off to a tough start, and it did not go our way and was ugly for six, seven games,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Sunday. “It went just the opposite after that. We have a veteran good who’s been through it before. They really don’t get too down — they got more upset about it than anything else after about a week.”
New shortstop Elvis Andrus, a two-time All-Star with the Texas Rangers during his 12-year tenure, said much of the credit goes to the calm approach of the staff.
“Big shout-out to the coaches and manager to not panic and just trust it would only take one game for us to get it going, and that’s what happened,” Andrus said. “Everybody started feeling better and relaxed.”
During the spell of not losing for over two weeks, Oakland’s pitching crafted four shutouts, with the starting pitching posting a 2.78 ERA and the relievers registering 2.53.
The A’s also averaged 6.2 runs per game, slugged 24 home runs and owned a plus-45 run differential through the 13 wins.
Sean Manaea (2-1, 3.04 ERA) will pitch the opener of the four-game series. In three career starts, the left-hander is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA against the Rays.
Manager Kevin Cash’s club suffered an offensive outage in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to visiting Toronto, mustering just five hits — two by Kevin Kiermaier — despite Blue Jays’ ace Hyun Jin Ryu leaving with an injury in the fourth inning.
“We just couldn’t manufacture anything. Their pitching did a nice job, and their bullpen kept our bats pretty quiet,” Cash said. “I’d like to think that our hitters are confident and had an off day. We’ll bounce back.”
Struggling left-hander Rich Hill (1-0, 8.82) has allowed four runs in each of his four starts. In six appearances against Oakland — two starts — he is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA.
Tampa Bay’s beleaguered relief corps made more moves over the weekend to bring in healthy, productive arms to help ease the bullpen’s workload.
Closer Diego Castillo returned Saturday after his brief stint on the COVID-19 list but did not appear in the game.
After hurling the final three innings in Friday’s 5-3 loss, right-hander Chris Mazza (shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 10-day injured list.
Starter Chris Archer (right forearm tightness) has not returned since his start on April 10 due to attending to a family matter but is still working out.
–Field Level Media