Bride quite the catch, but A's bats can't back Irvin

Rookie third baseman continues to impress, but Oakland's home woes continue vs. KC

June 19th, 2022

OAKLAND -- A’s rookie Jonah Bride was all over the place on Saturday afternoon, first laying out behind the mound for a highlight-reel catch to end the fifth before breaking up Brad Keller’s no-hit bid just minutes later with a booming two-out double in the sixth.

That’s the exact type of energizing presence Bride, ranked as Oakland’s No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has provided since his callup from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the week. It’s a youthful exuberance the A’s are desperate for more of, as they fell to the Royals, 2-0, at the Coliseum.

A struggling offense remains entrenched at the bottom of the Major Leagues in most offensive categories. Oakland has scored one or no runs in 24 of its 67 games, which ranks as the most such games in the Majors. A collective two-hit effort against the Royals spoiled a strong outing by left-hander Cole Irvin, who limited Kansas City to one run on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts across 6 1/3 innings.

“We haven’t been able to put innings or at-bats together over the last four or five games,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “Our pitching has been really good on the other end. We’ve got to score runs to win games. Unfortunately, again, the offense just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Couldn’t get momentum. Couldn’t put hits together.”

Those offensive frustrations at the plate only seem to intensify at home, where the A’s have now lost eight straight. If those home woes continue, they stand in serious jeopardy of making some ominous baseball history. Their current 7-25 (.218) record at the Coliseum has them on pace to finish with the lowest home winning percentage in the modern era (since 1900), which would surpass the 1939 St. Louis Browns, who played at a .234 clip (18-59) that season.

“We’re gonna have to figure something out,” Kotsay said of his club’s issues at home. “Whether it’s a ballpark issue, when we come back here, it’s an underlying tone offensively that’s hanging over us. We’ve got to figure out a way to win a baseball game at home.”

Clearly in search of a spark in the lineup, it would be unfair to rely on a rookie like Bride to be the answer to the team’s problems. His performance early on, however, represents an encouraging sign of a better future for this rebuilding A’s squad.

Earning a callup after slashing .347./443/.581 across 33 Minor League games, Bride has carried over his hot bat to Oakland, now having recorded at least one hit in four of his first five games.

In addition to his double against the Royals that was smoked 100.1 mph off the bat, he also roped a 99.3 mph liner off Keller in the third that stood a chance to score Elvis Andrus from first base had it reached the outfield. Instead, the ball was snagged by Carlos Santana near the first-base bag and turned into an easy inning-ending double play as Andrus was running on contact.

“With his bat-to-ball skills, he can hit a fastball, and he’s shown that since he’s been here,” Kotsay said of Bride. “He’s earning his opportunities, and it’s fun to watch a young player come to the Major Leagues and have some initial impact.”

Versatile enough to play first, second, third and even catcher, Bride’s chances to receive regular playing time should continue. He’s already proven capable of exceeding expectations in the past as a 23rd-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, who really just landed on the organization’s prospect radar a year ago.

At the very least, Bride’s energy and excitement so far is symbolic of the better days that the A’s hope lay ahead once more of the club’s promising prospects eventually make their way up to Oakland.

“I feel like I belong here,” Bride said. “I want to continue to go out there and perform. Bring energy, take good at-bats, be a good teammate. Do whatever I can to help this team win.”