Could Brown's return help unlock A's bats?

May 27th, 2023

OAKLAND -- The A’s are hurting for offense these days, and they’re hoping that can help reverse their fortunes at the plate.

With Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Astros, Oakland (10-43) has now scored two or fewer runs in eight straight contests as its losing streak reached nine games.

Brown supplied the only scoring of the game for the A’s with a two-run blast deep into the right-field bleachers in the seventh inning. But like so many other games on this skid, Oakland got one big swing and that was it.

“It’s tough,” Brown said. “It’s one thing where everybody’s pressing. Going out there every day and trying to push through this funk, I think everybody’s just kind of in that mode of, ‘What more can we do as a team and as a player?’ It’s one of those things where it’s got to break. Everybody’s feeling that pressure.”

Brown, at least, is trending upward at the plate. Friday’s Statcast-projected 410-foot blast marked his second dinger in as many days.

The A’s are hoping that Brown can help bring some stability to the top of the lineup. Last season, he posted the highest wRC+ (117) and OPS+ (117) for any returning player in Oakland’s 2023 lineup, after leading the squad with 25 homers and 73 RBIs.

Brown missed 40 games from April 8 to May 22 as he dealt with a left oblique strain. For the third time in four games that Brown has started since returning, A’s manager Mark Kotsay has used to lead off, to hit second, to hit third and Brown to hit at the cleanup spot. Oakland is hoping that quartet will be able to set the tone for the team going forward.

“I think it’s one of those things where, if we can all get hitting on all cylinders, good things will happen,” Brown said. “Just putting it together game after game. We see flashes of it; we just got to put it together more often on a consistent basis.”

As good as Brown is seeing the ball right now, he had a notable fielding miscue on Friday as the third inning unraveled for A’s starter . After Alex Bregman deposited an RBI single in front of Brown to make it 2-0, Brown had a miscommunication with third baseman Jace Peterson on a Kyle Tucker fly ball that dropped on the left-field foul line.

“I feel like I could have caught that, for sure,” Brown said. “That’s a play I got to make. It’s one of those things where you can’t get caught between it like I did. Didn’t call it early enough.”

The Astros ended up scoring four runs that inning to put the game out of reach.

Kaprielian didn’t get hit hard Friday -- seven of his eight hits allowed were singles -- but he still finished with an undesirable line, giving up five runs (four earned) with two walks and four strikeouts. The right-hander, who has yet to earn a win this season, lamented that he couldn’t be the stopper for the skid.

“This is a challenge,” Kaprielian said. “This is tough. I’ve never gone through something like this; I don’t think anyone has. We’re historically losing games, unfortunately, right now, but we’re not going to let that steer us. I think we have the ability to show up every day, have a positive attitude and try to be a good teammate.”