Piscotty's hot bat lifts A's over Red Sox

April 5th, 2019

OAKLAND -- There seemingly isn’t much that the A’s can’t do. That’s fortunate for them, because they’ll be asked to do plenty during the next 10 days.

Oakland’s 7-3 triumph over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, generated by Stephen Piscotty’s four hits and five-RBIs, totals which matched personal bests, completed a 6-2 homestand that propelled the A’s toward their next challenge.

They’ll hit the road to play the last 10 of their season-high 18 consecutive games without an off-day. The itinerary is, to be fair, odd, since the A’s will visit Houston, head east to Baltimore and travel all the way back to the Lone Star State to finish the sojourn against the Rangers. This stretch will test all of Oakland’s diverse skills -- which all were evident during its highly successful homestand.

Though October remains far away, Red Sox manager Alex Cora likened the A’s, who won three of the series’ four games, to his reigning but struggling World Series champions.

“Details win ballgames,” he said. “And for four games, [the A’s] did a lot of good things out there. A Iot of good things. They threw to the right bag. They play good defense. They ran the bases. They grind out at-bats. That was a reflection of who we were last year.”

Effective pitching is a prerequisite for winning on the road. The A’s proved that, for now, their starting rotation which was considered suspect before the season actually could be an asset. The contingent of Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks were directly responsible for the 2.06 ERA that the staff posted during the homestand. The bullpen, anchored by closer Blake Treinen and bolstered by setup man Lou Trivino -- who’s unscored upon and has nine strikeouts in 6 ⅔ innings -- remained formidable.

Of course, defense always supplements pitching. The wizardry of third baseman Matt Chapman and center fielder Ramon Lauerano, who recorded his third assist of the series Thursday by throwing out Mookie Betts at third base, has been invaluable.

Offensively, the A’s can slug it out, as they indicated by homering in each game of the homestand. Or they can rain base hits on opponents, as they did on Thursday by collecting 13 hits against Boston.

Piscotty led the charge by belting a three-run homer in the third inning and adding a gift two-run double in the fourth on a warning-track fly ball that Red Sox outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts allowed to plummet to the earth.

A caveat regarding Oakland’s power: Relying too much on the longball, even in this homer-happy era, is always risky. Because an efficient club must be able to manufacture runs if opposing pitchers shut down its power. And 24 of Oakland’s 41 runs this year have been delivered via homers.

Depth will be essential for the A’s on their trip. Oakland’s bench lacks quantity -- such shortages are inevitable as 13-man pitching staffs proliferate -- but is long on quality, even with regular first baseman Matt Olson sidelined following right hand surgery. Utility man Chad Pinder and first baseman-outfielder Mark Canha would start for many teams. Kendrys Morales should prove to be a valuable pickup.

Given the A’s losses in both games against during their season-opening Tokyo excursion, it’ll be intriguing to see how they fare in this three-city tour.