The A's are the major leagues' hottest team and find themselves as unexpected contenders in the wild card race. They're facing a Yankees team that has the majors' best record. Indeed, this four-game weekend series has gained attention nationally.
So was anyone else surprised that the A's 4-3 victory Thursday night drew a crowd of just 23,382 to the Coliseum? That's about 12,000 short of a sellout.
Granted, it was a Thursday night. And it's not like an A's-Yankees game in Oakland always packs the house. Just last season, one of their games at the Coliseum drew even fewer fans -- 22,581. That was on a Tuesday night, and it came on the heels of the Memorial Day holiday, so it's somewhat understandable.
But holy cow, Thursday's turnout has to be considered a disappointment given that the series carries more magnitude than anyone could have dreamed of back in spring training. There's an assumption the A's will start attracting bigger crowds the deeper into the season if they stay in contention, but a turnout like Thursday's makes me skeptical.
"Baseball is a faster game in left field than center," Henderson said. "The ball gets on you quicker, the ball moves in different directions. Really, you've just got to have quick feet and
Henderson, who switched from center to left as a young player in the majors, said he's confident Cespedes can make the adjustment. He also believes the A's are wise to try shifting Cespedes to left because he won't have to chase down as many balls and will therefore accumulate less wear and tear on his body.
"His offense (will improve) because he's not tired running after each ball," Henderson said.
Oakland's bullpen has allowed just five runs in 40ï»¿2/3 innings this month. It had another good night Thursday despite Ryan Cook finally allowing his first homer of the season. Cook had thrown 40ï»¿2/3 innings this season without surrendering a long ball, the longest streak in the majors among pitchers not to allow a homer.
But his ninth inning was preceded by Sean Doolittle's scoreless seventh and Grant Balfour's scoreless eighth. The A's have to continue to be thrilled with Doolittle's ability to enter more crucial situations and get outs. It bodes very well for the future of Oakland's bullpen.