SAN FRANCISCO -- A's manager Bob Melvin stuck with a struggling Josh Donaldson at third base for Friday's three-game series opener in San Francisco, coming on the heels of two straight games in which Donaldson made noteworthy defensive mistakes.
The decision paid off, as Donaldson put together a career night in the 8-6 loss, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs.
On Thursday, a leadoff ground ball off the bat of Texas' Michael Young went right under Donaldson's legs in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tied game, allowing Young to reach second and giving the Rangers a prime chance to celebrate a walk-off victory. And though reliever Ryan Cook managed to escape the scene without a run scoring, Donaldson again was a topic of discussion Friday, as the error came after he misjudged a Craig Gentry ground ball that helped Texas plate two runs in Wednesday's loss.
"You have to give him a little room to grow," Melvin said. "I think, for the most part, he's done well defensively. When they're struggling like that, you have to support them. You do address the issues, but you have to support them and let them know you have confidence in them."
Melvin had another third-base option in Adam Rosales, who boasts a career 3-for-8 showing with one home run off Giants starter Barry Zito. The A's skipper said his staff "thought long and hard about third base today" but ultimately settled on Donaldson, in part to allow him the opportunity to regain confidence.
"That can weigh on you a bit," he said. "[Thursday's error] didn't cost us. But he's been pretty good over there. He's been working hard to make himself a third baseman. You have to try to support him. You say something to him, you keep running them out there. Obviously, there's a point, whether offensively or defensively, where you do have to draw the line, but I think if I come down on a guy and run him out there and keep coming down on him, I think it's more difficult to play that way."
Entering Friday, Donaldson was 1-for-17 since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento last week and overall has just four hits in 49 at-bats on the season for a .082 average. He smacked a homer to lead off the third inning vs. Zito.