Talked to quite a few players after the 8-3 win. But I wasn’t able to get them in my game story or postgame blog. So here’s a few more comments.
We talked to Robinson Cano about something other than outside drama. He was quite happy to talk about baseball.
“I would say we are playing the little game,” he said. “We are moving guys, bunting. We are making difficult plays that like Miller last night. When you get pitching, hitting and defense, you are going to win. When you start wining games, you don’t have to worry about anything more, just maintain that roll.”
But the at-bats have been better. Cano knows the mentality of this team has to be different than what the mindset that he saw with the Yankees.
“That’s a thing we’ve talked about all year,” he said. “We are not a team that his two or three guys that have hit 30 or 40 homers. We got this team and we have guys that can run and guys that do the job with men in scoring position. What we have to do is play the little game. We’ve only got one guy here that has ever hit 30 home runs in a season and that’s Hart. We just gotta win games. This isn’t about thinking you got to hit a homer every time to get an RBI. You saw today, he hit a slow grounder to get a big RBI. Those are the little things that you want to do. Those are the little things that help you do it right.”
Corey Hart believes the mindset has changed.
“When we were struggling, everyone was waiting for one guy to step up,” he said. “Through this stretch we’ve had plenty of guys chipping in and stepping up. Every night it seems like someone else is doing it for us out there. It’s definitely a group effort.”
Mike Zunino said the difference in the attitude isn’t that much different than during the eight-game losing streak.
“I think the mentality stayed the same,” he said. “I think it was just one of those stretches you have to battle through. I think everyone kept positive during that time. We are taking it game by game and we have a lot of people contributing at different times.”
But the approach at the plate has improved.
“As a group, we want to be a tough line-up to face,” he said. “We want to have no easy outs. We want to wear down pitchers. We’ve been able to do collectively a good job of that. It’s been a group effort. And I think that’s going to be our theme going forward.”
Cano said something similar: “If we are going to make outs, they gotta be hard outs. We can’t give them outs.”
One thing that is interesting is in the improvement and adjustments they are making against starters they face the second time.
It was the second time they faced Jesse Chavez this season. The first time he pitched against Seattle on April 3, he pitched six innings, giving up one earned run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. This time he went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
“We had better at-bats,” McClendon said. “I would say he wasn’t at his best tonight stuff-wise. We still had pretty good at-bats. Our thought process going in was pretty good.”
Sticking to that thought process is important.
“The more you see a guy, the more comfortable you are in the box and you somewhat know what he’s going to do,” Justin Smoak said. “It’s about having a plan and taking it out to the plate and not getting away from it. If you do that, good things are going to happen for you.”
Speaking of Smoak, he is hitting .250 with nine doubles, four homers and a team-high 20 RBI. Not great numbers. But on this date last year, he was hitting .236 with five doubles, one homer and five RBI. It took him till July 4th to hit his ninth double last season and till July 13 to get his 20th RBI. I don’t know if that means anything, but I was messing around on baseball-reference.
Speaking of B-R … I looked up the stats of pitchers the M’s faced twice. Yes, insomnia is fun. Here they are ….
Hector Santiago, Angels
- 4/2 at LAA– 5 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts – 83 pitches
- 4/8 at SEA — 4 1/3 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts – 94 pitches
Jesse Chavez, A’s
- 4/3 at OAK — 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts – 91 pitches
- 5/6 at OAK — 5 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts – 97 pitches
Scott Kazmir, A’s
- 4/13 at SEA — 6 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts – 82 pitches
- 5/5 at OAK — 6 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts – 99 pitches
Sonny Gray, A’s
- 4/6 at OAK — 6 IP, 1ER, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts – 98 pitches
- 4/12 at SEA — 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts – 102 pitches
Colby Lewis, Rangers
- 4/14 at TEX — 5 1/3 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs, O walks, 4 strikeouts – 89 pitches
- 4/26 at SEA — 5 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts – 91 pitches
Robbie Ross, Rangers
- 4/15 at TEX — 7 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts – 90 pitches
- 4/25 at SEA — 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts – 101 pitches
Dallas Keuchel, Astros
- 4/21 at SEA — 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts – 113 pitches
- 5/3 at HOU — 6 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts – 91 pitches
Collin McHugh, Astros
- 4/22 at SEA — 6 2/3 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts – 89 pitches
- 5/4 at HOU — 4 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts – 85 pitches.