Once-lowly A’s face Nats again, aim to keep rolling

Apr 13, 2024, 5:49 AM | Updated: 7:52 am

Lawrence Butler #4 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates with teammates after driving home the game w...

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 12: Lawrence Butler #4 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates with teammates after driving home the game winning run in the tenth inning against the Washington Nationals at Oakland Coliseum on April 12, 2024 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics are doing the little things necessary for big things to happen.

After losing 102 games in 2022 and 112 last season, the A’s are showing spunk early in 2024.

They’ve gained momentum by winning five of their past six games. They have come out on top in back-to-back one-run games, including Friday night’s 2-1, 10-inning decision against the visiting Washington Nationals.

The teams will meet again Saturday afternoon, with the Athletics liking their recent results.

Oakland’s Lawrence Butler had only five hits this season entering the series, but he had the game-winning single and an earlier solo home run Friday night.

“I was just trying to help my team,” Butler said. “Put the ball in play and try to make something happen. Give yourself a chance and give your team a chance.”

Butler said extra work in the batting cage and confidence from manager Mark Kotsay have helped provide him with a good approach.

“Just putting good (at-bats), good things will happen,” Butler said.

Kotsay said it’s a process with many of the young batters, with Butler an example of that.

“It’s good to see the results are showing up because that builds confidence in what we’re trying to do with him,” Kotsay said.

The Nationals are 2-2 on a West Coast trip, making a stop in Oakland for a series for the first time since June 2017. Washington manager Dave Martinez said he sees regular improvement from his team, but the club has only two runs across the last 19 innings on the trip.

“It has to be a buy-in from everybody,” Martinez said. “I want these guys to be aggressive.”

The Athletics will go with right-hander Joe Boyle (1-1, 8.22 ERA), who threw five shutout innings Sunday in a 7-1 win at Detroit, as their starting pitcher on Saturday. This will be his sixth outing in the major leagues.

He’ll try to follow the lead of Oakland starter Paul Blackburn, who hasn’t allowed a run in 19 1/3 innings this season. His third strong start came Friday night, and Kotsay acknowledged that type of pitching is what the team needs.

“Really given us as a ballclub these quality starts,” Kotsay said. “Pitch into the seventh inning, just shows he’s commanding the baseball.”

Left-hander MacKenzie Gore (1-0, 4.09 ERA) is slated to be Washington’s starter. He has worked into the sixth inning in both of his starts this season, picking up the victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Gore has struck out six in each outing.

Gore, in his third season in the big leagues, will face Oakland for the first time.

The Nationals added reliever Amos Willingham to the roster at the start of the series in Oakland.

“I really felt we could use another guy in the bullpen to help us out a little bit,” Martinez said. “They been out there quite a bit already.”

The Nationals aren’t expected to have catcher Keibert Ruiz available again Saturday. He has missed three straight games.

“He’s sick,” Martinez said. “He just feels really weak. … Hopefully in the next couple of days he gets through it.”

Riley Adams is the only other true catcher on the roster.

Upcoming schedule for the Oakland Athletics

  • Friday, April 12-Sunday, April 14th – vs. Washington Nationals
  • Monday, April 15-Wednesday, April 17th – vs. St. Louis Cardinals
  • Friday, April 19-Sunday, April 21 – @ Cleveland Guardians

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–Field Level Media

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