8/10/2014 1:14 A.M. ET
Sogard finds success with shortened swing
By Aaron Leibowitz / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- After a frustrating first half in which he was on the chopping block multiple times, Eric Sogard could have understandably spent his All-Star break mulling over everything that had gone wrong. Instead, his mind was anywhere but the baseball diamond.
Sogard's home was burglarized while the A's were in Seattle, so he spent the break moving his family into a new place. Now, he realizes there may have been a bright side to the terrible situation. Since then, he is 13-for-40 and is playing on a regular basis.
"I think the All-Star break definitely helped a lot, just kind of allowed me to get my mind off baseball for a few days there," Sogard said Saturday. "Obviously moving out of the house, having to deal with that kind of made me take my mind off baseball."
Sogard hit .186 in the first half and saw his playing time diminish. But he has started 14 of 21 games since the All-Star break, including six in a row after Nick Punto went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Sogard was 6-for-14 with a home run since Punto's injury.
Clearing his head certainly helped, but just as vital to Sogard's turnaround was his work with batting coach Chili Davis to shorten his swing.
"That's what's fueled my success in the second half," said Sogard, "is being able to recognize pitches early and wait to the last second, just take my short swing to it, keep that line drive swing."
When Punto got hurt, the A's could have added a middle infield reinforcement. Instead, they called up first baseman Nate Freiman, leaving Sogard to play second base against righties and also fill in at shortstop when Jed Lowrie bruised his finger.
"We've seen Sogie swing the bat well before, and that's where he is right now," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "His defense always follows him and did a nice job playing short, but I think you're always tinkering, especially with a guy like Chili who's got a real understanding of both righties' and lefties' swings."
The challenge now is for Sogard to stay consistent.
"I like where I am now, I feel good," he said, "so just continue to go up and have good at-bats."
Bullpen's scoreless streak ends at 29 2/3 innings
OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen's scoreless streak was snapped at 29 2/3 innings on Saturday, when Dan Otero surrendered two eighth-inning runs to the Twins in a 9-4 win.
On Friday, the relieving corps set an Oakland record for consecutive scoreless innings, surpassing the previous mark of 27 2/3 achieved in 1998.
"Since we kind of figured out where the roles were, they can prepare a little better, they know when the phone rings who's coming in the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said this weekend. "It took us a little while to get there, but we've got a lot of quality down there, and depth -- the whole bit. It's quite a feat."
This season's streak began in Houston on July 28, and eight different relievers contributed at least two innings to the cause.
"We've got guys we can run out there in any situation, in any sort of game, top to bottom, and have success," said Ryan Cook, who has an 18-inning scoreless streak of his own. "We're a family. Whoever it may be that night, I think we enjoy going out there and competing."
• Kyle Blanks (left calf strain) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, starting at first base for the River Cats in Reno.
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.