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Oakland A's oddity: Giving up the DH in consecutive games

The Athletics have done something the A's haven't done since the days of Geronimo Berroa and Ruben Sierra.

Geronimo Berroa, DH-LF
Geronimo Berroa, DH-LF
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The A's have given up their designated hitter in the last two games for strategic reasons. Losing the DH, though a rare event, isn't unheard of. Losing the DH in consecutive games? It turns out the A's have not given up their DH in consecutive games in 21 years.

On Thursday in Oakland, Jed Lowrie was the designated hitter while the A's trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning. Andrew Lambo ended up pinch hitting for shortstop Marcus Semien with two out in the inning (though Bob Melvin arguably should have pinch hit for second baseman Chris Coghlan earlier in the inning). Lowrie was Oakland's only available middle infielder, so he took over shortstop and the pitcher moved into Lambo's spot in the lineup.

On Friday in Seattle, Josh Reddick was the designated hitter --- he had a minor back issue --- with the A's up 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. The A's had not made any offensive substitutions, so with the small lead and a full bench available if necessary, left fielder Khris Davis and in his poor arm were taken out of the game, Chris Coghlan was moved from right field to left field, and Reddick took the field in right.

While in both games it made perfect strategic sense to give up the DH, it's really unusual for it to happen in consecutive games. The last time the A's did it was in May of 1995. The last time any team did it was in May of 2014. It has only been done 10 times since 2003.

The last consecutive games the A's gave up the DH

Players Date Tm Opp Rslt Pos Summary
2016 Josh Reddick 4/8/16 OAK SEA W 3-2 RF DH
Jed Lowrie 4/7/16 OAK CHW L 1-6 SS DH
1995 Geronimo Berroa 5/20/95 OAK KCR W 11-1 LF DH
Andy Tomberlin 5/19/95 OAK KCR W 10-3 PH RF DH
May 19, 1995

Against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, the A's were leading 10-3 in the top of the ninth with two out. Tony La Russa was well on his way to pulling his stars from the game, having already sent Mike Aldrete in to pinch hit for left fielder Rickey Henderson. Aldrete homered and stayed in the game in left.

Designated hitter Geronimo Berroa was due up, but Andy Tomberlin pinch hit instead. Tomberlin flew out to right and entered the game at right field for Stan Javier in the bottom of the ninth. The pitcher that appears in the lineup in Javier's place in the order is Dennis Eckersley.

May 20, 1995

The next day, with the A's leading 8-0 heading into the ninth, Geronimo Berroa led off by striking out. Mike Aldrete pinch hit for first baseman Mark McGwire and flew out. Then the A's loaded the bases. Craig Paquette pinch hit for third baseman Scott Brosius, and he hit a bases clearing double to make it 11-0.

Those batters entered up being straight up, and with the score 11-0 La Russa put Berroa into left field for Rickey Henderson. Todd Stottlemyre, who was working on a complete game, entered the lineup batting first for Henderson but he ended up being pulled in favor of Mark Acre after giving up an unearned run.

The last consecutive games any team gave up the DH: Rays vs. A's

The Tampa Bay Rays had an awkward lineup construction with too many outfielders and platoon right-handed batters as a result of putting Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list with a dislocated left thumb. In the two games against Oakland's left-handers, utility player Logan Forsythe pulled designated hitter duty, with Sean Rodriguez in the field as the superior second baseman. This left Tampa's bench with three outfielders and a backup catcher for each game.

Players Date Tm Opp Rslt Pos Summary
2016 Josh Reddick 4/8/16 OAK SEA W 3-2 RF DH
Jed Lowrie 4/7/16 OAK CHW L 1-6 SS DH
2014 Logan Forsythe 5/21/14 TBR OAK L 2-3 2B DH
Logan Forsythe 5/20/14 TBR OAK L 0-3 2B DH
May 20, 2014

Trailing the A's 3-0 after 6 1/2 innings at Tropicana Field, Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays were doing everything they could to counter Oakland's pitching moves. Drew Pomeranz threw a Drew Pomeranz special: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 89 pitches. With Dan Otero pitching his second inning of the day and second baseman Sean Rodriguez due up, Maddon looked to his bench and only found three outfielders and his backup catcher. He put in Matt Joyce to pinch hit for Rodriguez.

With no other middle infield options, designated hitter Logan Forsythe became the second baseman for the top of the eighth while reliever Brad Boxberger entered the lineup at Joyce's spot. The other outfield bench options, David DeJesus and Kevin Kiermaier, pinch hit in the bottom of the 8th.

Maddon used his backup catcher, Ryan Hanigan, to execute a double switch to keep his reliever from batting in the bottom of the ninth, leaving the two pinch hitters in while taking Desmond Jennings out of center field. Despite all the machinations, Sean Doolittle notched the save

May 21, 2014

Trailing the A's 3-2 after 7 1/2 innings at the Trop, Maddon needed a run and he needed to sub out his platoon right-handed batters who started against Tommy Milone. Matt Joyce pinch hit for left fielder Brandon Guyer and Kevin Kiermaier pinch ran for first baseman James Loney, who was on first. Joyce's one out single put Kiermaier on third base, and Maddon sent in David DeJesus in.

Bob Melvin responded by bringing in Fernando Abad, who walked the bases loaded but then got Yunel Escobar to ground into a double play to end the eighth.

With Sean Rodriguez out of the game again, Logan Forsythe again came out of the designated hitter spot with Jose Molina the only available bench player. They didn't use him, however, as Sean Doolittle closed out the 3-2 contest well before getting to the pitcher's spot.

Source: Baseball-Reference Play Index searches of players that were recorded playing DH and another position. This potentially misses the edge case of a double switch of the designated hitter (a fielder is inserted into the game for the designated hitter, with the pitcher taking the lineup spot of the fielder that left the game), though I can't fathom any strategic reason why a manager would do that, nor why it would happen to occur on one of two consecutive days the DH is given up.