On a day the A’s fired a coach and added another sad chapter to a dismal season, they took the field and registered one of their more inspiring victories.
That’s one mighty contradiction. And somehow, it fits right in during a season where absolutely nothing has gone according to plan for this club.
Monday’s dismissal of third base coach Mike Gallego, who has ties to the organization going back three decades, was a shocker in its timing, coming just six weeks before season’s end.
Who knows how the decision to replace Gallego with Ron Washington ultimately will turn out?
Will Washington be a part of next year’s staff? Will a team perhaps come calling with a managerial offer during the winter? Can his everyday presence in the dugout have a positive, tangible effect, even if it’s way too late to salvage the 2015 season?
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's erupts for seven in fifth, beat Mariners 11-5]
If Monday’s 11-5 whipping of the Mariners is any indication, chemistry won’t be an issue. It had to rank as one of the A’s more satisfying victories from the standpoint that so many members of the 25-man roster pitched in to make it happen.
And yes, Washington, back in a third-base coaching role for the first time since 2006, played his part. He was a bundle of energy during A’s at-bats, demonstratively waving runners around third, holding them up, or just pumping his fists in celebration after another run crossed the plate.
That was a contrast to how the day began, with the sobering news that Gallego was let go. He was a fan favorite who had just been honored with his own wind-up toy on the last homestand.
Enough things have gone wrong in this A’s season that it can’t possibly be blamed on one man. Manager Bob Melvin said as much before the game in explaining the decision to fire Gallego and promote Washington, who was originally brought on board in May as a sort of infield instructor/consultant.
In Melvin’s words – and surely the front office had a big say in this move as well – there was increasing awkwardness with both Gallego and Washington playing a prominent role on the coaching staff, given that both their backgrounds overlap as third-base coaches who also work with infielders.
That the A’s entered Monday leading the majors with 18 runners thrown out at home didn’t help Gallego’s case.
“When you go through some tough seasons, you have to try to identify some of the issues you go through, and we’ve had a lot of them,” Melvin said. “That’s why we’re in the position we’re in. I think we are at the top of the league with guys getting thrown out at home. We’ve had a lot of one-run games, and that’s not a complete indictment on (Gallego).
“But I think too, and this is my fault, it’s been a little uncomfortable as far as the infield dynamic -- when you bring a guy in to do some things, and when you have a guy who’s been here a while. I just felt like it was a little bit uncomfortable to the point that this was a direction we were gonna go at the end of the season anyway. And we came to that conclusion and therefore we made the decision at this time, as opposed to wait to end of the season.”
Cutting someone loose in this fashion, and Gallego had 19 years with the A’s as a player and coach, is never pleasant for a clubhouse. That’s what made the A’s victory, especially the manner in which it came, so noteworthy. They overcame a 5-0 deficit. They watched starting pitcher Felix Doubront leave with an injury after just two innings.
Then they rallied midway through a game where it would have been understandable had their competitive fire been doused.
Predictable? Not even close.
Fitting for this most unusual of seasons?
Melvin said X-rays on Doubront’s contusion on his right foot were negative, but it’s unknown when he’ll be able to return to the mound.