Semien happy to be back in A's leadoff spot

Shortstop reaches twice, drive in club's lone run

Semien happy to be back in A's leadoff spot

HOUSTON -- With Coco Crisp reportedly being traded to the Indians, shortstop Marcus Semien got the nod as the A's leadoff hitter in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Astros for the seventh time this season and the sixth in the past month. He went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI groundout, plating Oakland's run.

"I felt all right," Semien said after the game. "Got on base twice, which is always good, but I want to win, so it's not the best."

Semien's double, which came off a cutter from Collin McHugh in the sixth, was Oakland's only extra-base hit.

"I'd like to win the game, but he did swing the bat well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "… [He] just got some good swings. Got some strikes to hit, put good swings on 'em."

Semien's fantastic diving stop

Since the A's traded Josh Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Semien and outfielder Jake Smolinski have shared leadoff duties when Crisp had a day off.

"We really don't have a true leadoff hitter when Coco's not in the lineup," Melvin said Tuesday afternoon. " … Whether [Semien is] the prototypical type of leadoff hitter, probably not, but based on the guys we have right now, he's the best guy for the job today."

It was only the second time Semien, who when he does lead off, normally does it against lefties, hit first against a right-hander this season. He went 1-for-4 the only other time, a 2-1 win against the Orioles on Aug. 9.

"I think you're able to get in a rhythm earlier, especially on the road [and] be the first hitter," Semien said of batting leadoff. "I've done it in the past in the Minor Leagues and [in Oakland], mostly against lefties, but they [liked] the matchup today, I guess."

Semien batted seventh in Monday night's 6-0 loss to the Astros, going 2-for-4 with a single and a double.

"It's different because you're not hitting in the second or third inning, you're hitting right away," Semien said. "It's good."

But Semien's numbers batting leadoff this season aren't great. In the previous six games, the 25-year-old was only 4-for-25 with seven strikeouts and one RBI.

Still, Melvin said he likes what he's seen from Semien lately. In his past 18 games, Semien was hitting .278 with a .316 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage.

"He's maturing as a hitter," Melvin said. "He used to be a power guy, but you're seeing him hit the ball the opposite way."

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.