Red-hot Christian Bethancourt not enough in Athletics' loss to Guardians

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Red-hot Bethancourt not enough to lift A's over Guardians originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Christian Bethancourt is on fire at the plate for the Athletics, but his newfound power wasn’t enough to force a series split at Progressive Field on Sunday.

The Cleveland Guardians took three of four from the A’s after beating them 6-3 in the series finale, which saw three Oakland hitters homer in the loss -- one of whom was Bethancourt.

The 30-year-old hit his fourth home run of the season during the eighth inning on Sunday just 11 days after hitting his first. Bethancourt has been nothing short of exceptional during the month of June and over the A's last seven games is slashing .435/.435/1.000.

The reason for that success? A lot of work in the cage, he told reporters after Sunday’s loss, where he has worked on being more aggressive at the plate and changing the trajectory of his swing for more lift on the ball.

“After that first home run that was back in Oakland, like two days before [is] when I started working on getting the ball more in the air,” Bethancourt said. “Still the same: see the ball, recognize, get a good pitch and try to hit it hard.”

The A's other two blasts sandwiched Bethancourt's -- Ramón Laureano gave them a brief one-run lead with a solo shot in the first inning, and Seth Brown went back-to-back with Bethancourt in the eighth.

Timely hits other than home runs were rare for Oakland on Sunday, however, and the team went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. One of those was Bethancourt, too, who was stranded after a sixth-inning double. Cole Irvin (2-3) was tagged with the loss after giving up four earned runs on six hits across 5 2/3 frames.

Still, A’s manager Mark Kotsay is encouraged by the lineup’s recent burst of power, which has provided nine homers in Oakland’s last three games. They only won one of those matchups, but he believes it’s a sign of more good things to come.

“That’s a big positive,” Kotsay told reporters after the game. “We hadn’t hit maybe two home runs over like a 10-game span … We didn’t end up on the right end of the game, but I do still feel like we fought. We just didn’t get enough hits.”

RELATED: Laureano looking forward to continued success after suspension

As the A’s prepare to wrap up their road trip with a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park starting Tuesday, Kotsay expects even more long balls from his increasingly confident lineup.

And he knows Bethancourt finding his swing certainly spells trouble for opposing pitchers in the future.

“Guys are getting more confidence, taking better at-bats and seeing some results,” he said. “We’ve known the power’s in there for the guys that hit the home runs, Murphy, Brown. For Bethancourt, I think it was just getting that first one out of the way and then seeing him maybe not trying to hit a home run, just trying to hit the ball hard.”