08/21/11 5:15 PM ET
Allen making the most of latest opportunity
By Eric Gilmore / Special to MLB.com
Willingham can't explain recent power surge
OAKLAND -- A's outfielder Josh Willingham knows that he's been on a hot streak at the plate. He just can't explain why.Entering Sunday's game against Toronto, Willingham had blasted nine home runs in his previous 21 games. And he had hit 11 home runs since the All-Star break, tied for most in the American League. "It seems like when I'm getting a pitch to hit and I hit it hard, some of them have been leaving the park," Willingham said. "I think that's the difference. A lot of times you hit singles and doubles. I've kind of been on a home run streak, but I can't explain it." Willingham entered the game with a team-best 22 home runs, four off his career high of 26 set in 2006 with Florida. He had a team-high 73 RBIs, 16 off his career-high of 89 set in 2009 with the Marlins. "Between he and [Hideki] Matsui, they're our stabilizing forces in the middle of the lineup that take a little pressure off everybody," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "With the offensive struggles we had in the first half, to come out in the second half and completely turn the tables, it's led by those two. "And certainly recently, Willingham's homers have not only been frequent, but they've been important. Whether it's a first-inning homer, an early-game homer that puts you ahead, or like last night when he pads on a lead a little bit. He's not hitting them when you're up 10-1 or down 10-1. He's hitting them when it counts." In the A's 5-1 win over Toronto on Saturday night, Willingham hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth inning. He also hit a two-run shot on Friday night in the A's 2-0 win over the Blue Jays.
Right-handed relief pitcher Michael Wuertz, who's on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right thumb, threw a bullpen session on Sunday and moved closer to a rehab assignment.
"I'm sure there's at least another bullpen involved until we send him out," A's manager Bob Melvin said. After a day off on Monday, the A's begin a 10-game road trip on Tuesday night against the Yankees. They play three games in New York, three in Boston and four in Cleveland. On their last road trip they won two out of three series, snapping a string of 12 straight winless road series (0-9-3).
"To win those two -- especially in Tampa and Toronto -- which can be tough places to play, it was a good feeling," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Hopefully the fact that we did win some games on the road adds to our confidence going on the road."
Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.