By Morris Phillips
Like Dave, Ricky, Jose, Mark and Eck, the young A’s weren’t bad early, then seized control late, both at the plate and on the mound in Chicago on Sunday.
Throwback uniforms prompted the 1990 nostalgia but the improving A’s provided the thump in Oakland’s 5-3 win over the White Sox.
The A’s completed the sweep with Sonny Gray starting and allowing just four hits, and Santiago Casilla earning the save despite allowing a solo shot to Melky Cabrera. Offensively, the A’s got home runs from Matt Joyce and Adam Rosales, and two hits from four consecutive hitters near the top of their starting lineup led by Franklin Barreto.
The A’s swept on the road for the first time since September, and significantly increased their road win total, which was only nine coming into the weekend. What’s more, the post midseason purge A’s looked improved in the process.
“We really put together three solid games here,” said Gray, who pitched seven innings, struck out seven, walked one. “We got big hits when we needed to, our starting pitching was really good, and our bullpen was really good. Hopefully that’s something we can continue to do.”
Gray’s fifth consecutive start of at least five innings, with at least five strikeouts naturally increases his trade value as a talented, trade-deadline added starter for a club with postseason aspirations, but at what return? The resurgent A’s, winners of seven of their last 11, all of a sudden have plenty of emerging players, but don’t necessarily have another Gray. Could they betray their familiar pattern, and lock Gray up to a pricey deal instead?
Maybe, given what the team’s shown lately.
Barreto capped an impressive beginning to his big league career with two knocks, a run scored, and a loud out on his final at-bat, 390-foot ride to the centerfield warning track that was snagged by Adam Engel. Barreto’s drive came off a Chris Beck sinker, and had the reliever thinking the worst off the swing of the bat.
The conclusion? Barreto, in only his second big-league start, can swing it. His presence in A’s lineups of the near future feels foregone after his impressive debut.
“We do like the fact that he’s up here and he’s getting a chance at the big leagues, getting a taste of this,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Derek Holland pitched into the seventh inning with a 2-0 White Sox lead, but the A’s rallied with a single run in the seventh, two in the eighth, and two more in the ninth.
Barreto’s leadoff single in the eighth preceded RBI singles by Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso, giving the A’s their first lead. In the ninth, Joyce and Rosales provided cushion with consecutive home runs. The A’s rally marked the first time the White Sox had blown a lead in the seventh inning or later this season.
With the loss, the White Sox have dropped six of seven, and are a season-worst 10 games under .500.
The A’s allowed just five runs in the three-game sweep. On Sunday, they produced a rare, errorless effort as well, while Chicago’s Matt Davidson’s throwing error boosted Oakland’s two-run eighth inning.
On Tuesday, the A’s get another shot at AL leader Houston at Minute Maid Park. Sean Manaea gets the start, looking for his seventh win.