By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–That ever significant group of former A’s players floating around major league baseball always bares watching. Some leave Oakland just as their careers are ready to ascend, others resurface with All-Star size chips on their shoulders like Josh Donaldson.
Whatever the circumstances, the current A’s need to be aware of the formers, even when they’re familiar opponents like Kurt Suzuki.
Suzuki smashed 59 home runs as an Athletic from 2007-2013, but in the ensuing seasons, the catcher had not returned the favor as a member of the Twins or the Nationals. His power numbers have decreased, as has his playing time, now as a backup for the Braves.
But Suzuki was back at the Coliseum on Sunday, in the lineup and making plays. And it wasn’t long before the 33-year old Suzuki looked like the 25-year old Suzuki of 2009 as an Athletic.
Suzuki clubbed a pair of home runs, the second breaking a 3-3 tie in the 12th inning, as the Braves went on to a 4-3 win and a sweep of the three-game series. The streaky A’s have now dropped seven in a row at home.
“I know the coaching staff over there. I’ve played for those guys,” Suzuki said. “It’s a good adrenalin feel coming around the bases.”
Suzuki didn’t reserve his impact on the game to just the two, lengthy home runs he hit. Behind the plate, Suzuki was critical, blocking a near wild pitch in the 11th that would have undoubtedly allowed the A’s to score the winning run from third base.
Also, Suzuki wasn’t bad calling and framing pitches, as starter Julio Teheran and seven relievers combined to strike out 17 A’s. Rajai Davis was punched out on a questionable pitch to end the 11th with the potential winning run at third base.
“Couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Suzuki’s various contributions. “It’s nice to see when good things happen to the good guys.”
The A’s couldn’t extend a streak of streakiness with a win. Oakland came into Sunday’s series finale having gone 8-8 in their previous 16 games, winning four, losing four, winning four then losing four again. But they dropped their fifth straight game despite coming up with game-tying runs in the seventh and 11th innings.