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OAKLAND – Josh Reddick got some helpful words from the A’s hottest hitter at the beginning of the team’s homestand.
Alberto Callaspo didn’t offer advice on batting mechanics or mental approach. Rather, Callaspo broke the news that he’d been hoarding Reddick’s bats.
It turns out a box of bats meant to be delivered to Reddick somehow wound up in Callaspo’s locker, and Callaspo never told his teammate until they were heading out for batting practice Friday.
“I told him, ‘That’s why you’ve been getting all those hits,’” Reddick joked after Oakland’s come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Houston on Saturday.
Reddick delivered the walk-off single in a three-run ninth-inning rally that sent a Coliseum crowd of 33,166 into delirium.
The ending was all that A’s fans have come to love about this team the past two years. After whiffing on several earlier scoring opportunities, the A’s somehow turned an ugly afternoon of baseball into a thing of beauty.
Jed Lowrie got it started in the ninth with a leadoff homer off Chad Qualls that made it 3-2. Josh Donaldson walked. Yoenis Cespedes singled. After pinch-hitter John Jaso struck out, Callaspo drove home the tying run with a single. Then Reddick capped things by driving a 1-2 pitch from Qualls into right-center field for his fourth career walk-off RBI.
It highlighted Reddick’s revival at the plate the past two days. He is 6 for 9 with a homer and three RBI, doing all the damage with one of the bats from that stashed-away box.
Surely, the right fielder’s improvement involves more than what stick he’s wielding. He’s a player whose confidence – and at times, lack of confidence – is visible to all. It’s apparent in his body language on the field and in his comments to the media. And right now, Reddick is starting to feel good about himself at the plate.
“It feels good to be a guy who in the first week was thinking, ‘How am I gonna be able to touch this baseball?’ to now, going ‘How am I even gonna think about getting out?’ It’s a great turnaround and a great feeling. It feels great just to have some confidence back.”
The early theme of the A’s day was missed opportunities. They left 14 runners on base and stranded a runner on third in four different innings. In short, they weren’t taking advantage of another solid outing from left-hander Scott Kazmir, who pitched a season-high eight innings and allowed just two earned runs.
Kazmir is in his first season with the A’s, and he’s noticing a team-wide belief that a game is always within striking distance regardless of how bad things look.
“If we’re close enough, we feel like it’s only a matter of time,” Kazmir said. “Even if their best guy is out there, we feel like we can still pull it out.”
It seemed only fitting that Lowrie played a part in the comeback after he exchanged words with Astros manager Bo Porter a night earlier, stemming from Lowrie dropping a first-inning bunt down with the A’s leading 7-0.
“I think that’s one of the best characteristics of this team,” Lowrie said of the ability to keep battling. “We had that last year and we’re off to a good start this year of really grinding out those last-inning at-bats and making it tough on the other guys.”
Just a couple days ago, it was hard picturing Reddick as the hero in any dramatic comeback. He brought an .098 batting average and just four singles into this homestand. Two encouraging games have lifted his average to .200.
Usually, he delivers the celebratory pie to the face after a walk-off win. On Saturday, he received one from Coco Crisp.
“I was just happy to help contribute,” Reddick said, “and hopefully build off it again tomorrow.”