BOSTON -- Baseball promotes the liberal use of perspective, as the A's 9-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday underscored.
The loss was the A's fourth in succession, their longest losing streak in the very early stages this season, so things were not all lightness and joy in the Fenway Park visitors clubhouse. The A's hold on first place in the A.L. West is gone, as is the karma that helped them win nine of their first 11 games.
Here's the perspective part -- 20 games into the season a year ago, the A's were 10-10 and already 51/2 games out of first place. Now they are 12-8 and barely out of first.
So things are better than they were at this point a year ago, and the A's wound up winning the A.L. West in 2012.
"To not start April the way we wanted to, we've been there," right fielder Josh Reddick said. "And we came back."
Reddick is starting to come back, at least a little. Flirting with a sub-.100 batting average heading into his second at-bat Sunday against Tampa Bay, he singled home the A's only run in that one. Monday brought more of the same: an RBI single in the second inning and, two strikeouts later, an RBI double during the A's three-run eighth.
"That's something to build off of," Reddick said. "In the first at-bat I was able to stay inside on the ball and get the run home. Then in the last at-bat I was able to go the other way and keep the rally going.".
Third baseman Josh Donaldson is going through the same fight, although he is a little further along. He was batting .120 seven games into the season, but he is 16 for 49 (.327) since then to get to .264. His double set up Reddick's RBI single in the second inning, and Donaldson doubled home two runs in the eighth.
"When you get guys on base, you have to drive them in," Donaldson said. "In Tampa, we didn't do that. Tonight, we did a couple of times, not some other times. We still lost the game, we came up short, but at the end of the day we can take those at-bats into tomorrow."
The A's have struggled since the schedule took them away from A.L. West competition. They are 11-2 against the West, 1-6 against everyone else.
The A's are averaging .177 against the rest of baseball after hitting .291 against the West. A's pitchers have allowed seven innings of three or more runs -- two of them Monday -- in seven games against non-West competition.
And there was only one hit from anyone not named Josh on Monday.
The defense needs to get better, too. An error by second baseman Andy Parrino set up a decisive grand slam for Boston's Mike Napoli in the fifth inning, and an error at first base by Brandon Moss set up another run.
So it isn't just the hitting that has gone south, but the hitters are leading the way. It's up to them to lead the way back, too.
"The good thing tonight is that when we got down, we didn't just lie down," Reddick said. "Getting back in the game like that was huge."
Getting back in the win column would be, too. It would do wonders for perspective.
"Quite literally it is a dream come true," Freiman said before taking the field.
A's (Bartolo Colon 2-0) at Boston (Alfredo Aceves 1-0), 3:35 p.m. CSNCA