OAKLAND, Calif. — A road trip that felt like a big step forward instead devolved into a step back. Here are a couple extras from the finale of six days on the west coast:
It probably didn’t feel like it, but Wednesday’s game was historic, at least in a round-number sort of way. For one thing, it was the 4,000th victory for the A’s franchise since it moved to Oakland in 1968.
And in that time, Minnesota and Oakland have played 591 official regular-season games. Know who has the advantage? The Twins had it when they arrived, but as of Wednesday, according to A’s record-keeping, the tally is Oakland 296 wins, Minnesota 295.
But that’s not even the big number for the Athletics, who were founded in 1901 in Philadelphia and spent the 1955-67 seasons in Kansas City. Wednesday’s victory was the Athletics’ 1,000th ever against the Twins franchise, which was founded the same year as the original Washington Senators. It’s the first time the A’s have reached that milestone against any team, and it’s all the more amazing when you see the overall record between the franchises since the American League was created: 1,000-1,000.
Phil Hughes sat in the O.co Coliseum bullpen, next to the right-field seats, on Wednesday, ready to pitch when summoned. The call never came, but Hughes said he enjoyed his afternoon in the California sunshine.
How he will be used remains something of a mystery — even to the person who will decide. Manager Paul Molitor said he won’t be afraid to call upon the veteran starter, but “I don’t have a set plan for how that’s going to unfold.”
Ideally, Molitor said, Hughes would pitch “most likely in an earlier-game appearance, where 2-3 innings would be really helpful. But it might not work out that way. … I’m not actively saying, ‘How am I going to get Phil in there?’ It’s just going to happen and it’s going to seem right when it does. Hopefully.”
Molitor was both impressed with Oakland starter Sean Manaea, who entered Wednesday’s game with a 7.03 ERA, and distressed with his team’s approach to the left-hander. “What I noticed was that he didn’t have to throw strikes to record outs,” Molitor said. “We got a little anxious. His changeup was particularly effective to our right-handed hitters. The deception to the pitch, it’s a fairly hard changeup in contrast to his fastball. More times than not, it dipped out of the strike zone but we swung at it numerous times.”
Added Brian Dozier, a little surprised that his team managed only five hits and struck out eight times against Manaea, “I think a lot of guys saw him really well. I think we squared up a lot of balls. But at the same time, there were certain situations we need to drive people in, and we didn’t come through.”