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Elephant Rumblings: A’s picking up steam in July

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Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Elvis Andrus #17 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates with pitcher Lou Trivino #62 and catcher Sean Murphy #12 after a 5-3 win against the Houston Astros at RingCentral Coliseum on July 26, 2022 in Oakland, California.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

Well, what have we here? Coming into July, the A’s were a truly abysmal 25-53, on pace to lose 110 and break the franchise’s Oakland-era record of 108 losses in 1979. They were 24½ games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros and a full dozen behind the then-fourth place Seattle Mariners.

But through July the team has shown vast improvement: they’re two games over .500 at 12-10 so far this month. This hardly means the A’s are suddenly in contention, of course—the Astros have continued to outpace the Green and Gold this month and have pulled 28 games ahead in the division, even though the A’s have taken five of eight head-to-head contests in July with one more to play today. However, Oakland has climbed within 5½ games of the now-fourth place Angels, so there’s a chance they could get out of the cellar at least.

Wherever they are in the standings, it’s refreshing to see the A’s win more days than not after three positively brutal months of blowing game after game. They’re the better Bay Area team of late.

Interestingly, A’s All-Star Paul Blackburn has not been key to this midsummer renaissance.

  • Blackburn, July: 20⅔ IP, 9.15 ERA, 5.16 FIP

Outside of his successful All-Star appearance, Blackburn’s July has been the stuff of nightmares. If there was any doubt three weeks ago that injuries aside, Frankie Montas was the true star of the pitching staff, such doubts have vanished without a trace. But with Blackburn struggling, and Montas missing most of July while hurt, Cole Irvin stepped up to lead the rotation by making four great starts.

  • Irvin, July: 27 IP, 1.67 ERA, 2.01 FIP

Speaking of Montas, if he gets dealt before the August 2 trade deadline, it will not help the A’s extend their recent success into August. Nor will a trade of Sean Murphy, if that happens. The A’s Gold Glove wining backstop led the team with 2.7 fWAR coming into yesterday’s 5-3 victory over the Astros, and he’s been the club’s best hitter this month.

  • Murphy, July: .333/.416/.560, 176 wRC+, 3 HR, 11.2% BB, 14.6% Ks

That production is one factor helping the lineup score 4.1 runs per game in July, their highest output of any month this season. Chad Pinder has also chipped in by becoming the sixth player in Oakland history to hit two grand slams in the same month, including one last night.

  • Pinder, July: .302/.321/.623, 164 wRC+, 4 HR, 17 RBI

Regardless of how the season plays out after the trade deadline, we should savor this month’s successes—especially if the A’s can complete a three-game sweep of the Astros today, which would also assure at least a .500 record in July when the month is over. Let’s go, Oakland!

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