The Oakland A's offense has been nearly stagnant thus far this season. Without the efforts of rookie Travis Buck, it would almost certainly be DOA. The corner outfielder leads the team in slugging percentage and OPS. That extra-base power came in handy on Friday night, when Buck's 11th inning triple led to the A's game-winning run versus the Yankees.
On Friday night, with the A's and Yankees locked in an extra-inning nailbiter, Buck showed the home crowd at the Oakland Coliseum why he was leading the minor leagues in extra-base hits before getting hurt last July. With one-out in the bottom of the 11th, Buck took a two-strike pitch from Brian Bruney, who had been dominant up to that point, and stroked it into the gap in left-center field.
Knowing that the A's were struggling to get hits and that Yankees centerfielder Johnny Damon does not have the greatest throwing arm, Buck never broke stride as he hit second and motored all the way into third base. He beat the throw by inches, but that aggressive baserunning set the table for the A's game-winning rally, as the Yankees put the next two hitters on to load the bases. Buck then scampered home with the game-winning run when Bobby Kielty hit a slow grounder to first that was hit lightly enough to cause Doug Mientkiewicz to throw wildly home.
The win was a much-needed one for Oakland, which had seen itself fall two games under .500 after dropping two of three from the Chicago White Sox. The game also marked the return of the A's power. In addition to Buck's triple, Oakland had two homeruns (one from Eric Chavez and one from Nick Swisher) and a double (from Mike Piazza).
After getting off to a slow start to his major league career, Buck has really picked up his game in the past week. He has only struck out once on the A's current homestand after striking out 10 times on their season-opening road-trip. He has also walked twice and has collected three extra-base hits in three starts on this homestand.
Buck has his average up to .269 and his OBP up to .387. On Friday, he made his first start versus a left-handed pitcher and reached once on a hit-by-pitch before tripling against the right-handed Bruney in the 11th.