NEW YORK -- An era ago, it would've been a telltale sign of futility. Now, it's just another stat that comes out in the wash. The A's are thriving in the second half despite striking out more often than any of their peers, and they have a chance to set the all-time American League record for strikeouts.
Oakland has already whiffed a franchise-record 1,288 times and can set the all-time league mark by striking out 36 times in their final 11 games. And if the recent returns are any indication, they might do it going away, as the A's struck out 100 times in their last nine games alone.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Saturday that his team can live with the strikeouts as long as it's hitting for power, and Oakland has had success in that regard this season. Entering Saturday, the A's were second in the AL in homers (90) and tied for second with 318 runs scored since the All-Star break. They then hit four homers and scored nine runs in a 14-inning loss.
"We're aware that we do strike out from time to time," said Melvin in response to a question about the league record. "But we don't solely rely on the homer. Especially when Coco [Crisp] is in the lineup, we do steal some bases. We haven't as much as we were earlier in the season based on the fact that we are hitting homers now. We want to make sure that when we run, it's the proper time to run."
Crisp has been sidelined by a case of pinkeye the last few days, and Melvin said he's uncertain when the veteran outfielder will be able to get back in the lineup. The A's will continue to grind out games with one of the youngest rosters in the league over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Oakland has used 18 rookies this season -- second in the Majors to the Cubs (20) -- and currently has 14 first-year players on the roster. But Melvin prefers to stress the positives, and he knows that his team is in contention despite its strikeout problems and because of its resiliency at the plate.
"It's something we're going to try to get better at," he said. "We do have quite a few guys -- and quite a few younger guys -- that are striking out, but I don't think it's been something psychological that has bothered us to where it's affecting how we play. It's just something we're living with, and every team has some deficiencies. That's ours right now, but we'll continue to stay positive and work around it."