The A's entire lineup, which entered Thursday's series opener in Texas having produced a Major League-worst .223 average, is in a funk, and manager Bob Melvin is hoping the hitter-friendly confines of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington provide a spark for a few of his slumping hitters.
Cliff Pennington has quietly watched his season average drop to .206, which is second lowest in the American League only to Carlos Pena's .198 mark. The A's shortstop, perhaps the streakiest player on the team, is just 2-for-28 over his last nine games and hitless since June 20 after batting .378 over his previous nine. Before that, he endured an 0-for-25 stretch.
"It's just been an ongoing thing for him," Melvin said. "He's working hard at it. He's very diligent and wants to help his team. It's been a struggle, but he's not the only guy. We have a few that are struggling quite a bit. This is a place where everyone, for the most part, tends to feel comfortable. Hitters love coming here to hit."
Inge is one of them, and he entered the day with a career .444 mark with one home run against Rangers starter Scott Feldman. Perhaps that can help the veteran out of his own woeful ways, as he carried with him into Thursday a 6-for-41 stretch with 15 strikeouts over his last 12 games.
"You're going to go through ups and downs over the course of the season," Melvin said. "This isn't his best time at this point. He has had some success against Feldman, and we always feel like there's a chance he's going to hit one out of the ballpark or drive in a big run. He's done that since he came here. It's just tough at times to keep up the pace he was on early on, but we expect him to swing it a bit better here in the coming days."
Elsewhere in the lineup, Coco Crisp is still batting just .212 on the season, despite putting together a .333 average since returning to the leadoff spot, and fellow table setter Jemile Weeks is hitting .221. Even Josh Reddick, who appeared to be the team's most consistent hitter in the first two months of the season, has watched his average dip to .259, after it was at .274 just two weeks ago. Yoenis Cespedes' .267 average leads the team.