The A’s closed out a sweep in Detroit on Thursday for their fourth victory in a row, and that counts as the longest current winning streak in the majors.
There’s lots of different angles to dissect from a 7-5 victory over the Tigers, but let’s knock out the pressing news first.
It appears the injury that forced Stephen Vogt from the game in the ninth inning is nothing major. Vogt told reporters after the game that he was cramping in his right leg. His status for Friday’s game at Boston is questionable, but that’s relatively good news if the problem only goes that far.
Vogt can be seen hobbling around the clubhouse after most games with a big ice pack wrapped around his surgically repaired right foot. Frankly, it’s been a little surprising just how much of a workload he’s been able to handle between serving as the primary catcher and playing some first base, as he did Thursday. Not only that, the mobility and athleticism he’s shown has been impressive too.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vogt get a little more time at first, especially with Ike Davis still sidelined and Josh Phegley contributing whenever he’s gotten a chance to catch.
The A’s have won nine of their past 12, and they’re starting to show some of the characteristics that stood out during last year’s torrid first-half run. One thing that’s jumping out is the offensive contributions coming from so many different players.
On Tuesday, Ben Zobrist came through with a grand slam that won the game. The next day, Billy Burns had a three-run triple. On Thursday, it was Phegley with an early two-run triple. Billy Butler had two hits and two RBI and Brett Lawrie enjoyed a strong overall series.
Getting Butler going, in particular, would be big for the A’s. As much as they benefit from getting contributions from all over the batting order, Butler was signed to a three-year $30 million deal to be a major run producer in the middle of the lineup. He’s shown a willingness to drive the ball to the opposite field, but seeing him truly catch a hot streak would give opponents a reason to fear the cleanup spot more than they do right now.
Butler entered Thursday with just 14 RBI over his past 37 games but knocked in two runs with a single and a double in the series finale against the Tigers. For the season, he’s hitting .264 with four homers and 28 RBI in 55 games.
It’s no coincidence that the A’s are rattling off wins at the same time that their starting pitching is shutting down opponents. Jesse Hahn held Detroit to one run and five hits over seven innings Thursday. And over the past 12 games, A’s starters are 8-2 with a 1.36 ERA (12 ER in 79 2/3 IP).
Hahn’s defense turned in an error-free game behind him, which hasn’t always been the case, and he’s commanding the strike zone. Over his past three starts, Hahn has notched 14 strikeouts against just three walks.
In Friday’s series opener at Boston, Scott Kazmir will try to keep things rolling along. He returns to the mound for the first time since May 27 after a bout of shoulder tightness.