Are the A’s missing the music?
It’s for sure that they are missing their DJ.
It’s been almost three weeks since Matt Chapman has been in the Oakland clubhouse and 24 days since their two-time Platinum Glove-winning third baseman has been in the A’s lineup.
The A's won five of their first six post-Chapman games. But they are 8-10 since, including Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox in Game 1 of the American League playoffs.
Oakland has more than made do with Jake Lamb, picked up after his release by the Diamondbacks, but there is something different in the Oakland clubhouse without Chapman in it.
Chapman, along with shortstop Marcus Semien and utility man Chad Pinder, are among the team leaders in the clubhouse, and it’s a voice that isn’t being heard at a time when the A’s could use it, down to a win-or-go-home game Wednesday against the White Sox at noon at the Coliseum.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said as much in a video conference call Wednesday morning.
“It’s never going to be the same,” Melvin said. “Lamb has done a great job for us, but you are talking about a two-time Platinum Award winner, a guy who allows you to play defensive differently, who seems to come up with a three-run homer on defense all the time. He’s a momentum-builder who can change the flow of the game with the defensive plays he makes. It’s just that there are very few players really ever that play defense like he does.
“On top of that, he’s; a huge voice in our clubhouse. He’s the DJ most of the time – it can be all Chapman all the time.”
Chapman has surgery on his right hip in Utah a couple of weeks ago and has since moved on to doing rehab near his Southern California home.
In a regular season, he’d be with the A’s now, but this is, of course, nothing close to a regular season.
“In a non-COVID world, we would probably have him here,” Melvin said. “But in this case, we can’t. So obviously the defense isn’t going to be as good, but, look, I don’t want to take anything away from what Jake Lamb has done for us. He’s done a great job for us.”
Lamb, in fact, had back-to-back defensive plays in the third inning of Game 1, including a diving stop against Yasmani Grandal that saw Lamb scrambling to his feet to get off a throw to nail Grandal at first.
Melvin said there was an issue with the noise – or lack of it – on the field, too. With no fans in the stands, no amount of recorded cheering can replace the energy that comes from having fans in the Coliseum seats.
“It was not as fun as it would have been with fans, but the intensity was there,” Melvin said. “There were times in the regular season where you had to manufacture your own kind of enthusiasm.
"That wasn’t the case yesterday. Everybody knows what’s at stake now. It’s just without the noise, the real noise of your fan base. that’s what gives you the home field advantage."
While Lamb doesn’t have Chapman’s 36-homer power, but after struggling through almost two months of no production and almost no playing time in Arizona, the newly arrived third baseman started his Oakland sojourn with a seven-game hitting streak.
In 13 games with the A’s in the regular season, Lamb hit .267 with four doubles and three homers, driving in nine runs. And on Tuesday, he had one of the A’s three singles in the club’s disappointing offensive showing, setting up Ramón Laureano’s run-scoring grounder that produced the only Oakland run.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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