Leave it to Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick to be a magnet of attention for the organization, whether it was for his erstwhile beard or his current choice of walk-up music: either way, he is a crowd favorite -- although maybe not in Cleveland, tonight.
Reddick hit two home runs and drove in six runs this evening in Cleveland to lead the A's to an 11-1 win on the road, with Sonny Gray earning with fifth win of the year with another dominating pitching performance. Overall, this boosts the Oakland club's record to 26-16 as it began a nine-game road trip through the Eastern time zone.
Trending all over Facebook and other social-networking media this week was Reddick's selection of "Careless Whisper" for his personalized music at every at-bat. And it's paid off with an excellent week of hitting for the A's outfielder: the beard is long gone, of course, but Reddick the Wham! fan has six hits, three home runs and nine RBI this week since going with the 1984 hit.
Whatever works for the guy, as he's doubled his season RBI total in the last four games, and this is something Oakland has missed from Reddick since 2012. That year, his first in Oakland, he hit 32 HRs and drove in 85 runs, but last season, those numbers dropped: only 12 home runs and 56 RBI.
Injuries may have hindered Reddick in 2013, but he's been mostly healthy this year as he scuffled through a rough April before bottoming out in early May. With just four hits through May 11, the right fielder found himself hitting ninth in the order.
And now, Reddick is on fire, and hopefully for Oakland, it will last a bit longer. Gray and the other A's starters would be thankful, that's for sure: Reddick hit a grand slam in the top of the second inning to blow the game open, and he followed it up with a two-run jack in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, Gray struck out nine in six innings, allowing only a solo home run to former Oakland star Nick Swisher. Relievers Fernando Rodriguez and Jim Johnson finished the final three innings without allowing a run to Cleveland.
The A's play two more games in Northern Ohio this weekend before heading to Tampa and Toronto for six more games. They return to Oakland on Memorial Day.