OAKLAND -- Not long ago, the A's were mired in an ugly stretch of play that saw them lose 10 of 11 games. Now they are rounding into form, having finished off an impressive three-game sweep of the Rangers on Wednesday for their fourth consecutive win.An all-too familiar scene played
OAKLAND -- Not long ago, the A's were mired in an ugly stretch of play that saw them lose 10 of 11 games. Now they are rounding into form, having finished off an impressive three-game sweep of the Rangers on Wednesday for their fourth consecutive win.
An all-too familiar scene played out in the 8-1 finale victory: Khris Davis continued his power tear with his 12th home run of the season, capping off a four-homer series that included three dingers -- including a walk-off grand slam -- in Tuesday's contest.
Then there was Rich Hill, stringing together six innings of one-run ball like clockwork, as the A's continued to build off of Sunday's thrilling victory against Tampa Bay -- highlighted by Danny Valencia's three-homer day -- that snapped a five-game losing streak.
"That's a good team," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the Rangers. "They were in first place when they got here. To be able to build off the Tampa series, after what was a real tough road trip for us, we talked about it earlier today with the momentum. Especially with that last game, it carried over to this series. It was good to sustain it and win three in a row."
The A's are finally witnessing strong pitching performances coincide with encouraging offensive showings, a necessity that's been missing for much of the season.
That Hill breezed through another outing, though, was no surprise. The lefty has allowed four hits or fewer in each of his last six starts, tossing at least five innings in each of them. He's 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA in that span, a nod to his consistent ways.
"He was upset with himself, pitch-count-wise, that he didn't get through the seventh inning," Melvin said. "He's really taken it upon himself to be that guy that gets you real deep into games and takes the pressure off the bullpen. After a couple of rocky games to start, he's pitched exactly what we saw later on in the year last year. He's been able to sustain it, and that's given us a lot of confidence when he takes the mound."
"You want that aggressive conviction when you go out there," Hill said. "When you see that on a consistent basis, and the more you're consistently going about that and going out there and fighting in that manner, the percentages are going to fall in your favor."
The A's offered Hill plenty of support, scoring three runs in the first inning and four more in the eighth, sandwiching Davis' solo shot to center field in the sixth, his Major League-leading ninth home run of the month. He also has 20 RBIs in May.
"It's amazing," Valencia said. "It's a lot of fun to watch. People don't realize how hard it is, and right now he's making it look real easy. For him to do what he's doing, it's pretty special, and you can't take it for granted because you don't see it too often."
Valencia is no slacker, either, having compiled three hits in Wednesday's contest to improve to 15-for-33 since his return from the disabled list. The A's got hits from eight players in the game and 12 overall.
"We've been fortunate enough to hit the ball hard when we're getting good pitches to hit," Valencia said. "It's a lot of fun, obviously, when you're scoring like that and performing like that. The middle of the order is where we need to do some damage, and luckily we've been doing it, which is nice because it's translating to wins."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.