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The “contact” play — good or bad for the A’s?

Leftover thoughts from last night as the A’s try to even this three-game series with the Twins …

–You might have noticed the A’s have had quite a few runners at third base thrown out on the “contact” play. Basically, when the A’s have a runner on third and one out, the runner breaks for home on a ground ball immediately on contact. It’s a gamble the A’s think is worth it. By going on contact, there’s a good chance the runner scores if the infielder has to move laterally at all to field a ball. Problem is, we’ve seen lots of instances where balls have been hit directly at defenders, leaving the runner a dead duck between third and home. It happened last night, when Daric Barton got caught in a rundown on a sharp grounder that Kurt Suzuki hit to Twins third baseman Danny Valencia.

A’s manager Bob Geren pointed out last night that many teams around the majors run the “contact” play with one out. (It wouldn’t make sense to do it with no outs because if a runner holds at third on a groundout, the next batter can still score him with a sacrifice fly.) … But considering how many runners the A’s have lost in this situation, you have to wonder if they’re better off holding a runner on a grounder and seeing if someone can follow up with a two-out base hit.

Hopefully I didn’t lose you with that whole discussion, but the “contact” play seems to be doing the A’s more harm than good this year …

–The plan is for Andrew Bailey to throw off the mound Sunday for the first time since he went on the disabled list July 30. Bailey (rib cage strain) says he’s eager to give it a go and see how he feels. Even if he feels terrific, I would think it could be another week or so before he’s activated. He’ll need to throw multiple bullpen sessions or perhaps in a minor league game or two to get his arm in shape. Geren said that how Bailey feels after Sunday’s session would help dictate the plan …

–Lost in the details of Friday’s game: Barton hit the ball hard in four of his at-bats, including two liners right at outfielders. He said before tonight’s game that he sees the ball well here at Target Field …

The lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Davis RF, Cust DH, Carter LF, Tolleson SS; Cahill RHP.

Twins — Span CF, Hudson 2B, Mauer C, Kubel RF, Cuddyer 1B, Thome DH, Young LF, Valencia 3B, Casilla SS; Duensing LHP.

Joe Stiglich