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Sweeney sidelined with knee trouble; Buck draws start

Another A’s outfielder is ailing as the season winds down. Right fielder Ryan Sweeney’s knees are bothering him, particularly his left one. He’s not in the lineup tonight, and manager Bob Geren said he’d know tomorrow whether Sweeney will miss the final four games. Sweeney joins Scott Hairston on the injured list (Hairston has been shut down with quad, hip and back injuries). Sweeney’s knees have been an issue for much of the season, but aside from one DL stint in June, he’s played through the pain. His absence means playing time for Travis Buck, who draws just his second start since being recalled Sept. 19.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Patterson LF; Buck RF;Pennington SS; Mortensen RHP.

M’s: Ichiro RF; Gutierrez CF; Lopez 2B; Griffey Jr. DH; Beltre 3B; Johjima C; Hannahan 1B; Wilson SS; Saunders LF; Morrow RHP.

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Baseball under the roof at Safeco

The A’s have had pretty good luck with the weather in recent trips to Seattle. Not this time, as it’s been overcast and windy all day. We haven’t had rain yet, but the roof is closed at Safeco Field. … Mariners starter Felix Hernandez has a 1.94 ERA since Aug. 1, best among major league starters. His only start against the A’s this season came way back on April 11, and he gave up five runs in five innings. … A’s manager Bob Geren said he doesn’t anticipate changes in his lineup for the rest of this three-game series. Tonight’s has a familiar look …

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Beltre 3B
Carp 1B
Hall LF
Johnson C
Wilson SS

Hernandez RHP

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Postgame notes from A’s 7-4 loss to Angels

Just a couple tidbits before I catch a plane out of Anaheim …

–Despite failing to get the three-game sweep, the A’s are 5-0-4 in their last nine series. That’s their longest stretch without losing a series since July 27-Sept. 3, 2006.

–They need to win out in their final six games to finish at .500 and avoid their third losing season in a row. They haven’t had three straight losing seasons since they endured six straight from 1993-98.

–Today was hazing day for the rookies, who had to dress up in costumes to wear to the airport for the flight to Seattle. Among the highlights: Starting pitchers Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Clayton Mortensen all dressed up as Tele Tubbies (all you parents, pardon the punctuation and spelling if it’s wrong!). And closer Andrew Bailey, who was forced to wear a costume that resembled a part of the male anatomy that isn’t suitable for Chin Music (Bailey was supposed to change into a different costume before leaving the stadium).

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Strange stuff at the ballpark; A’s-Angels lineups

True story … I was walking up to the main entry gate at Angel Stadium this morning, and two security guards were trying to corner a rooster that was running free near the will call windows(and I thought last night’s A’s victory was bizarre). But now that I think about it, catching roosters is pretty good training for stadium security personnel. … Builds quickness. At least that’s how Sylvester Stallone trained for Apollo Creed in “Rocky II.” Rocky was chasing a chicken, to be specific. And he eventually caught it. As far as today’s matchup, my money was on the rooster …

I shared that story because it’s more interesting than anything that happened in the A’s clubhouse this morning. Manager Bob Geren wasn’t lying when he said he’d give a few guys the day off. Kurt Suzuki, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust all are sitting. So we’ll see how things play out against Angels lefty Joe Saunders. Daric Barton, who’s impressed at the plate lately, hits in the No. 2 spot behind Rajai Davis.

Today’s lineups

A’s: Davis CF; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Nomar DH; Bobby Crosby 3B; Carson RF; Powell C; Patterson LF; Pennington SS; Edgar Gonzalez RHP.

Angels: Figgins 3B; Abreu RF; Hunter CF; Guerrero DH; Morales 1B; Rivera LF; Izturis 2B; Napoli C; Aybar SS; Saunders LHP.

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A’s-Angels pregame update — Saturday

We’ll keep it short and sweet. The A’s are sticking w/the same lineup as last night as they try to break through against John Lackey. The right-hander has allowed zero earned runs in three starts against the A’s this season. Dana Eveland pitches for the A’s, hoping for his second straight win.

Look for Matt Carson to get a start in the outfield tomorrow afternoon, with Ryan Sweeney getting the day off against Angels lefty Joe Saunders, manager Bob Geren said. Landon Powell will start behind the plate tomorrow. …

Tonight’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Eveland LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C
Izturis SS

Lackey RHP

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Postgame thoughts after A’s 3-0 win over Angels

Some postgame quotes and observations following the A’s 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to start this three-game series:

–It seems there’s a switch located somewhere on Gio Gonzalez, and when the switch is “on,” we see outings like tonight’s. The lefty displayed what manager Bob Geren said was “by far his best curve ball of the year.” Gonzalez went 6 1/3 innings and got most of his seven strikeouts with the curve, but he also had his fastball and changeup working. He’s been messing with a new grip on his change-up and two-seam fastball, and he liked the results he had.

–Is there a better under-the-radar MVP candidate for the 2009 A’s than setup man Michael Wuertz? He faced six Angels hitters and struck out five of them. That gives him exactly 100 strikeouts this season, which leads American League relievers and is a career high.
According to closer Andrew Bailey (who got his 26th save), he and Wuertz have a competition going for who can top who on the mound. “Wuertz is really fun to watch,” Bailey said. “He strikes out a lot of guys. He’s been great all year, not just on the field, but off it for me. Going out there and trying to match him is a challenge.” Wuertz is arbitration-eligible this winter, and I’d say he’s making himself some money with each outing. No way the A’s don’t retain this guy.

–It wasn’t all rosy tonight. Third baseman Adam Kennedy has a pretty obvious problem throwing the ball to first base right now. I don’t know if his arm is hurting, and I haven’t asked him yet. But for the second straight game, he lobbed a routine throw that pulled Daric Barton off the bag for an error. He’s committed an error in three straight games (Wednesday’s miscue was a fielding error). What’s funny is Kennedy made a terrific play after tonight’s error, making a bare-handed grab of Juan Rivera’s grounder that ricocheted off Gio Gonzalez and throwing a strike to Barton. Go figure … In the big picture, I still think he’s done a standout job at third considering he’d never played the position in the majors before this season. And his versatility could earn him lots of interest this winter as a free agent.

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Chavez, Tomko pay visits; other A’s tidbits

The A’s were just in Anaheim four weeks ago, and it feels nearly as hot now as it was then. But once the sun goes down, there’s not a better place to watch night baseball than Angel Stadium …

Lots of visitors in the A’s dugout before today’s game, including Eric Chavez and Brett Tomko. I guess I shouldn’t call them visitors really. Point is, they haven’t been around in a while. Chavez has been rehabbing his back in San Diego and made the trip up. He said his recovery from surgery continues to go well, and he’s hoping to begin baseball activity in December.

Tomko, who was shut down for the season last week, said doctors told him he basically “pulled a nerve” that runs through his right bicep. That’s what’s causing the numbness he still feels at times. He’s talked to Giants pitcher Brad Penny about the problem, because Penny had the same injury a few seasons ago. Rest is the only real remedy, and Tomko said he should be 100 percent by the time spring training rolls around. Will he be wearing an A’s uniform then? Who knows … But Tomko thinks he pitched well enough before his injury to open eyes around the majors, and he’s said previously he wouldn’t mind returning to Oakland.

Former A’s catcher Adam Melhuse, who retired earlier this season, also was in the dugout. He lives in San Luis Obispo, and Chavez talked him into paying a visit.

–Scott Hairston’s quad/back/hip injuries aren’t showing much improvement, and manager Bob Geren listed him as doubtful for the Angels series. So Eric Patterson’s back in left, where he’s made a nice impression over the past three games …

Tonight’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Guerrero DH
Hunter CF
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

Weaver RHP

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A’s-Rangers lineups; pondering Landon Powell’s future role

A little different look to the A’s lineup today, not surprising for a day game after a night game. Eric Patterson is at second base, Travis Buck is in left field and Landon Powell is catching, plans that manager Bob Geren had indicated last night.

Geren was asked if Powell might be a consideration for more DH/first base duty next season, based on how well he’s hit. Geren wasn’t specific, but said he would try to find Powell more at-bats somehow, depending on how the roster shapes up. That’s an interesting idea to ponder. With this year’s offense lacking in the power department, Powell’s presence could provide a little more pop. But that depends on A) How healthy he would remain with increased playing time; B) whether he could improve enough at first base to not be a defensive liability; C) whether the A’s re-sign Jack Cust and what other DH options they might have; and D) who else they might sign/trade for over the winter.

Anyway, here’s your lineups as the A’s prepare to head out on a six-game road trip:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Powell C
Barton 1B
Patterson 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Jones DH
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Gentry RF

Feldman RHP

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A’s-Rangers pregame update

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Sweeney RF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Ellis 2B; Barton 1B; Pennington SS; Patterson LF; Mortensen RHP.

Rangers: Borbon DH; Andrus SS; Murphy LF; Byrd CF; Blalock 1B; Cruz RF; Davis 3B; Rodriguez C; Vizquel 2B; Hunter RHP.

As you can see, Scott Hairston is out of the lineup again, but A’s manager Bob Geren is hopeful he can return before season’s end. … Nothing substantially newsworthy to report pre-game, unless you count Travis Buck shaving his head as big news. He usually waits until after the season to do so, but went ahead and did it now. “Maybe I’m trying to go incognito,” he said.

Geren praised Daric Barton again today before batting practice. Curious how all of you are feeling about Barton right now. Part of the reason Chris Carter wasn’t brought up was so the A’s could continue evaluating Barton at first. Do you think he’s turning the corner as a big league hitter?

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Daric Barton returns, Scott Hairston absent from A’s lineup

The A’s welcome back one regular to the lineup (first baseman Daric Barton) but are without another (left fielder Scott Hairston). Hairston has been bitten by the injury bug for most of his time with the A’s. His left hip began bothering him last night and forced him to leave the game. But he also has pain in his back and left quad (which has been a problem for a while now), and Hairston wonders if they all could be related. A’s manager Bob Geren said he was hopeful Hairston could possibly return tomorrow, but that seems optimistic based on how Hairston feels right now. “I want to be out there, and my body is not letting me do it,” he said.

Barton has a bone spur in his left heel that acted up during Sunday’s game, so he sat yesterday. But he said he’s played with the bone spur for “a couple of years,” so obviously it’s nothing too serious.

Not much else going on leading up to tonight’s game, but the beat writers did present the Bill Rigney Good Guy Award today. Kurt Suzuki was this year’s winner. We give the award out annually to the player who’s most cooperative with the media, which is a tough call in the A’s clubhouse because there aren’t many bad seeds. Anyway, Suzuki had fun w/it. It would have been good to snap a photo of him walking through the clubhouse holding his Good Guy plaque over his head like it was a heavyweight championship belt.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS
Patterson LF

Cahill RHP

Rangers
Borbon DH
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Byrd CF
Blalock 1B
Kinsler 2B
Cruz RF
C. Davis 3B
Rodriguez C

McCarthy RHP